Yard owner urges lockdown in equine flu outbreaks as more cases confirmed

A yard owner who inadvertently took in a horse suffering from flu has spoken out on the importance of locking down — as a number of new cases have been confirmed.

Gina Burns’ daughter Georgia, an eventer who also coaches, took in a client’s new horse, bought from a dealer, for schooling at her yard in Scotland on 7 February. She had insisted on a vetting and a strangles test beforehand, but when the horse was walked off the lorry, its snotty nose was clearly visible.

A vet arrived at the yard within the hour and a swab confirmed the horse was suffering from flu. The yard shut down immediately and now, two weeks later, is waiting for further tests to confirm the horses are clear and life can get back to normal.

“We put a post on Facebook to say what had happened as we wanted to be upfront, to say we had it but we were on lockdown,” Gina told H&H.

“We got generally a very positive response but when I called the dealer, I got nothing but abuse. He said the horse was perfect when it left his yard but the vet said there was no way; not with snot as thick and yellow as that.”

Gina is concerned that another horse she knows of has been sold from the dealer’s yard to elsewhere in Scotland and others have travelled to England – all three have since tested positive for flu.

“The man said the horse had been swabbed and it was nothing to do with him so there’s no point in talking to him,” she said.

“But I read the article in H&H [21 February] saying the flu’s going nowhere and people need to be responsible and it’s so right. If people just shut down and have their horses vaccinated – we’re just waiting for confirmation we’re clear and we can start again.

“We’ve come clean about it and I feel that’s the right thing to do.”

Gina spoke to H&H as the Animal Health Trust confirmed a number of new cases yesterday (21 February).

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Three unvaccinated non-thoroughbreds in Kent have been confirmed with the virus, as well as one unvaccinated non-thoroughbred in Gloucestershire. One other horse on the latter premises is showing nasal discharge.

In Hertfordshire, one unvaccinated non-thoroughbred has tested positive for flu, along with one vaccinated non-thoroughbred in Sussex, who showed mild signs and was back to normal days later.

In Yorkshire, five non-thoroughbreds, two of whom were vaccinated, have tested positive. 

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