Flu shuts down United Kingdom racing until February 13

08 February, 2019, 14:45 | Author: Veronica Peterson
  • EI outbreak halts British racing

Horse racing in Britain has been cancelled until at least Wednesday over an outbreak of equine flu.

The BHA stopped all races until at least February 13 as the flu broke out after three positive tests from vaccinated horses in an active racing yard prompted fears that the virus could stop all racing for up to six months.

The vulnerability of British horses outside the racing population is a potential complication, Henderson points out.

The Cheltenham Festival is a favourite occasion of some members of The Royal Family, including the Duchess of Cornwall, the Princess Royal and Zara Tindall who attend most years.

A decision on whether racing can resume next Wednesday will be made by the BHA on Monday.

Under the rules of racing, Irish horses in training must be vaccinated for equine influenza, a disease which shows symptoms ranging from increased temperature, coughing, nasal discharge, being off feed, and more severe respiratory signs.

The body said the full extent of the problem was not yet known but it has worked quickly to identify which yards could have potentially been exposed.

Since the incubation period for equine influenza can be up to 72 hours, samples will be taken on Friday from horses that raced at Ayr and Ludlow and sent to the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket for analysis.

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There were four meetings scheduled in the United Kingdom on Thursday at Chelmsford City, Doncaster, Ffos Las and Huntingdon along with Thurles in Ireland.

France is the root of this equine influenza outbreak with several sport horses in northern France testing positive for the infection. BHA procedures state that a racecourse can not race for at least four days following a deep clean having taken place.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) confirmed the affected stable had runners at Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday, where they were in close proximity to dozens of other horses from many racing stables.

Cases of equine influenza had been reported in recent weeks, originally in France but spreading to Ireland and Britain.

In a statement, the BHA said: "This precautionary approach is meant to ensure we put the health of the horse population and control of the virus first, and avoid any unnecessary risk that might come from returning to racing too quickly".

They raced on Wednesday and the BHA says they potentially exposed the flu to a "significant number of horses from yards" in Britain and Ireland.

The virus can also be physically carried on equipment and vehicles.

Equine flu is caused by a strain of the Influenza A virus, which infects both humans and animals. "At the moment the decision to suspend racing sits entirely with the British Horseracing Authority".

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