Equine Flu Shock For UK Racing

Equine Influenza strikes Britain

Racing was called off at four venues on Thursday - Ffos Las, Huntingdon, Doncaster and Chelmsford - after three horses from Donald McCain's yard in Cheshire tested positive for the disease.

McCain, who saddled Ballabriggs to win the Grand National in 2011 and has more than 100 horses in his stable, said "the BHA were contacted immediately" once the positive result for equine influenza had been confirmed and that he is "liaising closely with them about biosecurity and management of all the horses at Bankhouse".

Horses from the infected yard competed at Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday, potentially exposing others from yards across the country and in Ireland, the BHA said in a statement.

The decision by the British Horseracing Authority (BHA) comes after three vaccinated horses in an active yard tested positive for the disease.

That means that a race meeting offers a prime breeding ground for the disease, which is why racing today has been cancelled.

The Animal Health Trust are working alongside the racing industry on the matter and a further update is expected later on Thursday.

A BHA release said the cross-over of horses at the tracks could cause infection to horses around Britain and in Ireland.

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"We appreciate the impact that this may have on the sport commercially, but disease control in order to mitigate the risk of further disruption to the sport - and safeguard the health and welfare of our horses - must be a priority".

Racing in Britain will not resume until at least Wednesday, February 13 to minimise the risk of the spread of an outbreak of equine influenza.

It added that a plan to reschedule this weekend's key races will be constructed.

"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".

"When new horses arrive at our yard we try as much as possible to keep them separate, but at this stage can not know if the infection came from recent arrivals or from horses returning from racing".

Donald McCain's three infected horses had all been vaccinated against equine influenza. Extremely. It is most commonly spread via nose-to-nose contact between horses but can also be passed on through human contact and has been known to be windborne over distances of up to 8km. Other stables around the United Kingdom are in lockdown for testing by vets.

Nowadays, in this part of the world, equine flu has the biggest effect on the horse racing industry.


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