Equine influenza alert issued after outbreaks in Munster and Leinster
An equine virus that has not been identified in Ireland since 2010 has been discovered on five premises in Munster and Leinster.
Trainers have been advised that horses which have not had a vaccine containing Clade 1 virus within the last six months are given a booster vaccination as soon as possible
A statement from the Irish Equine Centre today read: "Equine influenza has been diagnosed this month on five premises in Munster and Leinster.
"Breeding stock, racehorses and competition horses are affected. Clinical signs such as coughing, nasal discharge, swollen glands and fever have been observed in both vaccinated and unvaccinated horses but the latter are worst affected.
"There has been an increase in influenza outbreaks in several countries in Europe recently and the first two Irish premises confirmed, a Thoroughbred stud farm and a show jumping yard, appear to have epidemiological links to the continent.
"The virus has been typed by the OIE Reference Laboratory at the Irish Equine Centre. It belongs to Clade 1 of the Florida sublineage. Viruses of this clade predominate in North and South America but have not been identified in Ireland since early 2010.
"The virus circulating in Ireland at present appears to be more pathogenic than the clade 2 viruses circulating here in recent years i.e. the clinical signs are more severe. The virus can spread rapidly in a yard particularly if the horses are naïve or lack protective immunity.
"Clade 1 viruses are represented in some vaccines available in Ireland and booster vaccination is recommended for all horses that have not been vaccinated in the last six months.
"Testing for equine influenza is provided free of charge by the Irish Equine Centre. This service is funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine."
A statement from the Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board read: "All Trainers and handlers are advised to take guidance from their veterinary surgeons.
"Horses in training are required to be vaccinated for equine influenza under Rule 90 and 91. Symptoms to be aware of in vaccinated horses range from an increased temperature and the horse being off feed to more severe respiratory signs.
"In accordance with IEC recommendations, the IHRB is advising that all horses which have not had a vaccine containing Clade 1 virus within the last six months are given a booster vaccination as soon as possible. This situation is being closely monitored. While the IEC have confirmed that it is a disease outbreak, the IHRB does not currently require mandatory vaccination under Rule 91(i).
"Testing for equine influenza is provided free of charge by the IEC – it is recommended that any trainer with any concerns should avail of this in order to establish their horses’ disease status. As with any contagious infectious disease outbreak, rapid diagnosis and effective management is key to recovery and minimising spread of disease."
Trainers and handlers who have concerns or questions in relation to this should contact, The IEC on +353 (0)45 866266 or firstname.lastname@example.org