Influenza News

Equine Influenza Outbreak: February 2019

As you are probably aware there is currently an equine flu outbreak occurring in the UK. At the moment 7 yards have confirmed disease and further testing is underway. NO yards in Sussex, Kent or Surrey have been confirmed as affected yet. 

Flu can affect horses of all ages. 

Clinical signs include lethargy, coughing, nasal discharge and fever (temperatures over 38.5 degrees celsius). The disease usually resolves within 2-3 weeks with rest and supportive care in most cases but can have complications. 

The virus is highly contagious and spreads rapidly between horses via nasal secretions and breathing. People can also spread the disease via contaminated clothing or equipment so hygiene is really important. 

To confirm the disease a nasal swab and blood is taken and sent to the Animal Health Trust.

Vaccination is very important to limit the signs of infection and is the most effective tool against a large flu outbreak. Horses who have been fully vaccinated usually have no or only very mild signs. Protection against the flu virus starts to drop 6 months after vaccination so some horses can become susceptible again.  

Sussex Equine Hospital is taking part in a vaccination amnesty month. We use ProteqFlu which contains the relevant strain of flu virus. 

During February, all horses starting or re-starting their vaccination course will receive the 2nd vaccination for FREE

Visit charges still apply. The offer is open to horses that are over 6 moths of age and have not been vaccinated or those that are overdue an annual booster. The first vaccination must be booked  to take place in February 2019.  

Please feel free to discuss with one of our vets if you have any questions 

Further useful information can be found here


Microchip Legislation

Compulsory microchipping to improve horse welfare

Government legislation now states that all owners must microchip their horses, ponies and donkeys by October 2020, according to the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and Animal Welfare Minister, Lord Gardiner of Kimble. The long lead time up to this deadline enables owners to combine microchipping with a routine visit to, or from, their vet.  

The Government is working closely with equine vets and the British Horse Council to highlight this change in microchip regulations. The resulting Central Equine Database will be a complete log of all domesticated horses, offering a practical solution to pressing animal welfare issues which arise when horses are abandoned and make it easier to rehome the animals more quickly and effectively. The database will also allow local authorities and police to track down the owners of discarded horses, make sure they are held to account and the animals given the care they deserve. 

Failing to microchip a horse by October 2020, will result in sanctions from the owner's local authority, including a compliance notice and  a fine of up to £200.

The RSPCA reports to have rescued almost 1,000 horses in 2017 and a huge majority were not microchipped, making it virtually impossible to trace the owners. Compulsory microchipping will help find those owners who abandon their horses as well as helping reunite others with animals that have been stolen.

This new legislation has the full support of the British Horse Council, which reiterates that it will not only enable irresponsible owners to be held properly accountable for the treatment of their animals and aid in reuniting owners with lost or stolen horses, but also significantly support the UK’s efforts to protect our equines from disease outbreaks.