In January 2019 you were probably very aware of the impact that Equine Flu had on the racing industry. Thankfully quick action by various authorities prevented a pandemic. It did however also prompt a change within our industry to ensure as many horses within the national herd were vaccinated. Read the post below, which explains why we are recommending all horses receive 6 monthly flu boosters. Meaning if your horse was vaccinated in February during the initial outbreak – its time to vaccinate!
In 2018 there were just 2 flu outbreaks in the UK, in 2019 there has been 213 (as of 25th July 2019).New cases are still being reported – Equine Flu has not gone away!
So do we need to vaccinate & how often?To cut a long story short ALL horses need to be vaccinated against Equine Flu, irrespective of where they are and how old they are (in accordance with the drug manufacturers recommendations). After the primary vaccination course all horses should be vaccinated every 6 months to booster their immunity.
So why do we need to vaccinate every 6 months rather than yearly?The outbreak demonstrated how fast Equine Flu can spread as a result of unvaccinated animals. The national herd vaccination rates (thought to be around 50-55%) falls below the recommended 70% vaccination rate in order to provide adequate herd immunity. With an increased awareness of Equine Flu many organising bodies have moved to a 6 monthly vaccination schedule. To avoid confusion especially with animals that compete we are now recommending all horses receive a Flu booster every 6months. This also conforms to the long standing recommendations by the FEI that all horses must have been vaccinated within 6 months +21 days of arriving at the Event, however they cannot compete if they have been vaccinated within 7 days of arriving at an event venue. The FEI take their advice from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), who are an international body of experts which give advice to our profession on matters such as disease surveillance and subsequent prevention.
Vaccination Guidelines by Association:
- British Eventing (BE) – 6 monthly boosters
- British Show Jumping (BSJA) – Highly recommends 6 monthly boosters
- Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) – 6 monthly boosters
- British Horse Society – Advises following veterinary advice
- From the Animal Health Trust (AHT): Dr Richard Newtons Statement on the Equine Influenza outbreaks
- AHT 2019 outbreaks report: Click here to download
- Horse owner leaflet from the AHT – What to do as a horse owner dealing with Equine Flu.
- EquiFluNet – a very useful webpage summarising everything you need to know about flu