Two horses die in EHV outbreak as venues introduce movement restrictions

Two horses have been put down during an equine herpes virus (EHV-1) outbreak as show centres and the New Forest have announced movement restrictions.

Crofton Manor Equestrian Centre, Hampshire, announced on Wednesday (8 January) that positive cases of the virus had been diagnosed on the yard.

In an update yesterday (9 January), a spokesman for the centre said vets had taken blood tests and swabs from all horses on site.

“The first confirmed case was the evening of Tuesday (7 January). The veterinary advice is that Crofton Manor will remain in quarantine and will be following strict biosecurity procedures. This will remain in place until 28 days after the last positive case,” said the statement.

A spokesman for Crofton Manor told H&H the centre would like to thank everyone for their support and well wishes at this very stressful time.

“We immediately followed veterinary advice and put the whole centre on lockdown. We have tried to notify everybody who has been at the centre in the last 14 days,” she said.

“We are in the process of issuing refunds to anyone who has bookings with us and all updates will be released via our Facebook page.”

Professor Andy Durham of Liphook Equine Hospital told H&H two horses had been put down at Crofton, the second one yesterday, who had contracted the neurological form of the virus equine herpes myeloencephalopathy (EHM).

“We’re not worried about the general horse population. You can think of it in three groups; the horses resident at Crofton Manor who are being dealt with most strictly, the second group are horses on a yard where there has been some contact with Crofton where for example a horse went to a show at the weekend – they are in an intermediate group who we are dealing with carefully in terms of isolating, taking temperatures, and lab testing,” he said.

“The third group is the general horse population; horse who have had no contact, indirectly or directly with Crofton Manor. There is no cause to do anything differently with those horses.”

A spokesman for Liphook Equine Hospital said all movement of horses on and off its premises had been stopped after a case of the virus in a horse from Crofton was confirmed at the hospital on Wednesday afternoon.

“The single horse was managed in the hospital under isolation conditions between the evening of 6 January and the afternoon of 8 January, when the horse returned home. Tests from the confirmed case revealed a very low level of virus,” said the spokesman.

“EHV-1 infection is governed by a voluntary code of practice that dictates that all movement of horses should cease while investigations take place. For the time being we have chosen not to accept cases at Liphook Equine Hospital other than local life-threatening emergencies. We have contacted everyone who had a horse in the practice during this period and are confident that every precaution has been taken to implement appropriate containment measures. We remain hopeful that the period of isolation will not be prolonged, but this depends on further developments and laboratory testing.”

The spokesman added that work by the hospital’s ambulatory vets on the road would continue as normal.

Assistant clerk to the verderers of the New Forest Justine Bailey told H&H the verderers have asked owners whose horses have attended Crofton, or been in contact with horses that have attended, to “temporarily refrain” from riding in the forest in order to protect the ponies.

“We have a lot of pregnant mares out there who we don’t want to contract the virus,” she said.

The virus, which can cause respiratory problems, can also cause abortion in pregnant mares.

Equestrian show venues including Pyecombe at Brendon Stud, West Sussex, Tweseldown in Hampshire, Blue Barn Equestrian Centre in Kent, and Sparsholt Equine Centre in Winchester, are among those to announce restrictions on horses who have attended Crofton Manor.

In a statement today (10 January) a spokesman for Tweseldown asked that no horses attend the venue who had visited Crofton Manor since 21 December.

“We also ask that you take your horse’s temperature before you leave home as an extra precaution,” he said.

“The aqua treadmill is disinfected between horses and the operatives use hand sanitiser. We are taking this very seriously and ask that you do too. We will continue to monitor the situation daily.”

Competition and arena hire is going ahead at Pyecombe and Blue Barn but the venues asked that anyone who has been to Crofton Manor in the past 14 days, or has a horse at their yard who has been, to not attend the venues.

In a statement a spokesman for Merrist Wood Arena, Surrey, said it had closed the equine centre as a “precautionary measure” based on advice from its vets.

“This means we will be restricting access to the equine centre, which includes the livery and arenas, for all animals and cancelling all events at the equine centre until further notice,” he said.

“Teaching and learning at the site will not be impacted by the closure, so all students are expected to attend lessons as normal. We apologise for any inconvenience and disappointment that this may cause, but hope you understand the welfare of all animals is of upmost importance to us. We will be in touch with those who have an upcoming booking to discuss.”

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In a statement Sparsholt Equine Centre, Hampshire, said the centre had limited all horse movement on and off site as a “precautionary measure”.

“This means our British Dressage (BD) on 11 January, unaffiliated dressage on 12 January, BD youth training and British Showjumping on 18 January are cancelled. We apologise for the disappointment and hope you understand that the welfare of all horses is of upmost importance,” said the statement.

“An email will be sent shortly to all entered competitors, please reply to the email regarding a refund or entry for a future date. We are confident that our BD on 25 January will be able to go ahead as planned.”

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