The Animal Health Trust (AHT) and Merial Animal Health have joined forces to create the initiative. The AHT’s head of epidemiology and disease surveillance, Dr Richard Newton, believes that the campaign is a significant step in the battle against equine flu: “The creation of Equine Flu Awareness Month is an important step forward for the equine industry.
“There have been 52 recorded outbreaks of equine influenza in the last two years, and whilst this may sound considerable, we believe it’s actually just the tip of the iceberg,” he says.
“An equine influenza surveillance scheme at the AHT provides ongoing free sampling to all practices registered to the service, funded by The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB).
“We are fortunate that the HBLB invests in this important scheme which also benefits the industry as a whole. We know that approximately just 40% of the total UK herd is vaccinated, so when you consider that all racehorses and many other competing and performance horses are vaccinated under compulsory rules, that leaves the remainder of the herd even less protected and the total percentage well short of the 70% required in order to prevent an epidemic¹,²,” he adds.
“Many horses that don’t travel are still at risk of equine influenza, but frequently go unvaccinated. These animals are not only at risk of contracting and amplifying virus from their stable-mates that do travel, but are also at risk of airborne infection as equine flu is capable of travelling over a mile as an aerosol on the wind,” he concludes.
For more information on Equine Flu Awareness Month visit www.equinefluawareness.com