Equine Influenza

06 February 2020

The Department has reviewed the Equine Influenza situation in Great Britain following the outbreak that peaked during summer 2019. Numbers of cases have reduced significantly since the summer (see graph below) and there have been no reported cases on the Island since the outbreak started. As such it is now appropriate to relax the import controls as follows:

  • Horses fully vaccinated against Equine Influenza do not need to be isolated post-import.
  • Horses not fully vaccinated against Equine Influenza will still need to be isolated for 14 days post-import.

If you have a query regarding your equine's vaccination status please contact your private veterinary surgeon.

Horses not fully vaccinated 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. 

The Department thanks the equestrian community for their cooperation and patience, and has taken their views as expressed last year in the questionnaire into account in coming to this decision. Please click to read a summary of the questionnaire findings.

Graph produced by the Animal Health Trust showing the extent of the outbreak in GB (click on the image to expand):

Equine Influenza UK Outbreak graph

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 2019 break in Britain followed 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.

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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