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Equine Influenza

22 May 2019

Attention Horse/Pony owners – Equine Influenza and Import Controls Questionnaire

There are still new cases of Equine Influenza being reported each week in Great Britain according to data published online by the Animal Health Trust. So far, no cases have been reported in the Isle of Man.

In recent weeks we have received phone calls and emails from members of the equestrian community who are finding that the post-import isolation requirement is making it difficult for them to attend local competitions and qualifying events in between trips to the UK for competitions. We have produced a questionnaire in order to gauge the opinions and perspectives of the Manx equestrian community about the Equine Influenza outbreak and the current import restrictions, to help us make decisions going forward about how best to manage the situation.

The questionnaire is aimed at all horse/pony owners on the Isle of Man; the more responses we get the more useful this will be. We are distributing this link by email to contacts in the equestrian community including equestrian centres, riding clubs, livery yards, riding schools, the veterinary practices and the agricultural shows as well as on our Facebook page.

We would be very grateful for the equestrian community's assistance in distributing the questionnaire to as many horse/pony owners as possible.

If you run a riding club or equestrian centre that hosts or runs equestrian events, gatherings or competitions: it would be very helpful if one representative from each organisation would also complete the questionnaire on behalf of their organisation. We would appreciate it if you would communicate with any others involved in the running of your organisation to make sure just one submission is made on behalf of the organisation. This does not mean that you cannot also submit a completed questionnaire yourself as a horse/pony owner. When submitting the questionnaire on behalf of your organisation, please write the name of the organisation after your name in at the top of the first page, and select YES to the question "Do you represent an organisation or establishment that hosts equestrian events/competitions/gatherings".

The questionnaire has now closed.

8 February 2019: At the current time owners are advised not to import horses to the Isle of Man unless necessary and we would ask for the co-operation of horse owners with this. If horses are to be imported increased biosecurity will be required to help protect the Isle of Man horse population.

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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