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Equine Influenza

03 July 2019 

Due to the recent upsurge in outbreaks of Equine Influenza in Great Britain it remains appropriate to keep the current post import controls in place. The evolving disease situation will be monitored and the controls kept under review. 

We would like to thank the equestrian community for their continued cooperation and for sharing their views in the recent questionnaire. We received 163 responses in total which have given us a broad representation of Isle of Man horse owners and organisations. Please click to read a summary of the questionnaire findings.

For more background information see the Animal Health Trust website.

08 February 2019

Import licenses now contain an additional requirement to isolate horses for two weeks following importation. This covers the incubation period and will enable detection of the disease should it occur and further isolation to contain the disease.

Horses must be kept isolated for 14 days following importation.

14 day Isolation Period = this is the quarantine period during which the imported equine must not come into direct (nose-to-nose) contact with any other equine, nor be kept in shared air-space with other equines. 

  • The imported equine must not compete on-Island within the isolation period or attend any other event/gathering with other equines. 
  • The isolation could be indoors (within a stable) or turned out, provided the field boundary does not allow for direct contact with neighbouring equines. 

If you have any queries or would like more information on this matter please contact the Agriculture team on +44 1624 685844 or

Equine influenza is a highly infectious disease of horses, mules and donkeys occurring globally caused by strains of Influenza A virus. It is the most potentially damaging of the respiratory viruses that occur in UK equines and disease symptoms in non–immune animals include high fever, coughing and nasal discharge.

The recent outbreak in Britain follows the identification of a number of equine influenza cases across Europe and the UK, including several in vaccinated horses.

Equine Influenza can be highly contagious and – unlike other infectious diseases – can be airborne over reasonable distances as well as be transmitted indirectly, including via people. There are no known consequences for humans associated with exposure to the disease.

Unvaccinated horses

In unvaccinated horses we tend to see certain ‘cardinal’ signs. The virus targets the upper respiratory tract where the cough receptors are positioned so a very harsh dry cough is typical. Often horses will develop a raised temperature which will last around 7-10 days, during this time they may be quiet, off their food and generally sluggish, they may also have a small amount of clear or white nasal discharge and enlarged lymph nodes in their throat.

Vaccinated horses

Horses that have been regularly vaccinated often show no clinical signs, but they may still shed enough virus to infect other horses. This is how the outbreak in Australia in 2007 started.

Horses that have been vaccinated but only have partial protection, e.g. because they haven’t been vaccinated frequently enough or because the vaccine type used was not updated, may show varied signs of mild non-specific respiratory disease. This can include mild lethargy, nasal discharge and possibly a cough.

The Animal Health Trust are the equine monitoring agent for disease surveillance in the UK and information is posted on their website and twitter feeds.

For further information and advice, please contact your private veterinary surgeon.

Equine Influenza

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