Equine Flu: Musselburgh cancellation a 'real, real shame' - clerk of course

Maricruz Casares
Febrero 7, 2019

Meetings at Chelmsford, Doncaster, Ffos Las and Huntingdon were all cancelled on Thursday. The yard in question had runners at jump meetings at Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday.

The infected horses, which were vaccinated, had raced on Wednesday in Ayr and Ludlow before their cases were highlighted by the Animal Health Trust.

All fixtures were called off on Thursday by the British Horseracing Authority and trainer Donald McCain confirmed the horses came from his Cheshire stables.

Equine influenza is a highly infectious disease of horses, mules and donkeys occurring globally caused by strains of Influenza A virus.

The BHA has said no definitive decisions on whether racing can take place on Friday or in the coming days will be taken until later this evening once test results return on Thursday evening.

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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".

"The fact that the cases have been identified in vaccinated horses presents a cause for significant concern over welfare and the potential spread of the disease and the action to cancel racing has been viewed as necessary in order to restrict, as far as possible, the risk of further spread of the disease", a BHA statement read.

A major outbreak of equine flu in Australia in 2007 led to widespread cancellation of racing including the Sydney Spring Carnival and cost the industry millions of dollars. The BHA is communicating with yards potentially exposed to ensure appropriate quarantine and biosecurity measures are put in place and horse movements restricted.

The BHA conceded "the full extent of potential exposure is unknown" but is working as fast as possible to gather information about any potential spread of the outbreak. Symptoms in non-immune animals include high fever, coughing and nasal discharge.

So what exactly is equine influenza, and why has it got so many people in the horse racing industry so anxious?

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