UK’s chief veterinary officer confirms notifiable equine disease outbreak

Two cases of equine viral arteritis (EVA) have been confirmed in stallions in Dorset.

Defra has announced that restrictions on breeding have been put in place on the two non-thoroughbreds, who are on the same yard, to limit the risk of the disease spreading. Further investigations are ongoing.

Chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss said: “We have taken swift action to limit the risk of the disease spreading by placing breeding restrictions on the animals and their semen.

“A full investigation is under way to determine the source and possible spread of the infection. Owners of mares and stallions are urged to have their animals tested before they are used for breeding.”

EVA is a notifiable viral disease in stallions, and in mares who have mated or been inseminated in the past 14 days. It can cause flu-like symptoms, including fever, swelling (especially of the limbs) and inflammation around the eyes. It also causes weakness in foals or abortion, especially in the second half of pregnancy.

It is usually spread by stallions with infected semen, or in the air via respiratory secretions of infected horses.

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 “These findings remind us that we must all be vigilant for signs of disease and follow strict biosecurity measures,” Ms Middlemiss said.

“Owners are urged to help prevent the disease spreading, by vaccinating stallions against it and practicing good biosecurity. Owners of mares and stallions are advised to have them tested before they are used for breeding.”

Anyone who suspects the disease is present must report it immediately by calling Defra on 03000 200 301. In Wales, call 0300 303 8268, and in Scotland, contact the local field services office. Failure to do so is an offence.

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