British racing halted by EI outbreak | TDN

EI outbreak halts British racing

The British Horseracing Authority instructed that today's meets be cancelled in an attempt to restrict the spread of the virus.

McCain sent out runners at Wolverhampton on Monday and both Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday before the test results were revealed on Wednesday night.

Racing is still set to continue in Ireland, where Thursday's meeting at Thurles took place, but no entries from British stables will be accepted until further notice.

The BHA said they had the unanimous backing of their industry veterinary committee to cancel racing on Thursday, which was due to take place at Huntingdon, Doncaster, Ffos Las and Chelmsford.

This is following the BHA being informed this evening by the Animal Health Trust of three confirmed Equine Influenza positives from vaccinated horses in an active racing yard'.

The British Horseracing Authority reported horses from the infected yard raced at Ludlow and Ayr on Wednesday, adding identification of the virus in vaccinated animals presented a "cause for significant concern".

Leading Welsh horse trainer, Tim Vaughan, says the equine flu outbreak, which has forced the cancellation of all race meetings across the United Kingdom, could last up to 10 weeks, and could affect the Cheltenham Festival.

But it added that "at least three more days are required before it will be possible to make a decision about whether it is safe to resume racing".

Equine influenza is endemic in Britain's horse population, but vaccination against the disease is mandatory for thoroughbreds and most other breeds that are used competitively, such as eventers.

The sport's ruling body said it had identified yards that could have potentially been exposed today.

The BHA conceded "the full extent of potential exposure is unknown" but is working as fast as possible to gather information about any potential spread of the outbreak.

Equine influenza causes similar symptoms in horses to those suffered by humans; including fever, nasal discharge and a harsh, dry cough.

"We are scrupulous about observing the health status of horses in our care and taking the necessary steps to treat any condition that may affect them". Transmission of the disease can occur through indirect contact, for example through people, and it can also be airborne over a reasonable distance.

Consequently horses stabled north of the Murray River couldn't compete in the 2007 Melbourne Spring Carnival, which largely proceeded as per normal but with increased bio-security measures.

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