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Vigilance urged after equine influenza outbreaks
Horse owners are being urged to be vigilant for the signs and symptoms of equine influenza.

Four separate cases in the UK since December 2018

Horse owners are being urged to be vigilant for the signs and symptoms of equine influenza after several recent outbreaks of the disease in Europe.

Four of the outbreaks were confirmed in separate counties in the UK (Cheshire, Essex, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire) in the last month. These incidents occurred in non-vaccinated animals and, where typing has been confirmed, all involved FC1 H3N8 viruses.

The Animal Health Trust (AHT) reports that is also seeing increased equine influenza activity in northern Europe. Where typing has been carried out, these cases also involve FC1 virus and many have occurred in vaccinated horses.

Following discussion with the AHT and veterinary advisors from stakeholder groups, the BHA has issued the following advice:

‘Due to the concerning situation in Europe where outbreaks have occurred in vaccinated horses, the BHA would like to advise that all horses which have not had a vaccination again equine influenza within the last six months should receive a booster vaccination. 

‘We continue to advise trainers to be extra-vigilant with biosecurity. New horses entering a yard should be isolated for a period of 14 days.

'Horses showing signs that could be flu (especially rapidly spreading nasal discharge and/or harsh dry cough) should be isolated and promptly investigated by your vet. Symptoms may only be transient in vaccinated horses.

‘Unlike other infectious diseases, Equine Influenza can be airborne over reasonable distances as well as be transmitted indirectly, including via people, and this may in some circumstances pose an additional risk to racehorses and young Thoroughbreds.' 

The BHA added that the HBLB will cover laboratory costs for testing for equine influenza at the AHT if submitted under the HBLB scheme - visit for more information.

The equine influenza outbreaks occurred between December 2018 and January 2019. Any confirmed cases should be reported to the British Horseracing Authority.

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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

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 The RSPB is calling on the public to help provide new homes for swifts, as figures show the birds' numbers have fallen to less than half what they were 20 years ago.

Swifts arrive in the UK late April-May and can spend up to three months in the country. The RSPB attributes the birds’ decline to modern buildings, which lack the nooks and crannies they need to build nests.

While some house builders have agreed to integrate swift homes into new buildings, the RSPB believes more can be done to help this incredible bird. 'Just, 1,000 additional new nest boxes could make a difference’, the charity said.  

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Detection time for omeprazole reduced to 48 hours in racehorses

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) has announced that the detection time for omeprazole has been reduced from 72 hours to 48 hours. This is effective from 1 February 2019.

Omeprazole can be prescribed for the management of gastric ulcers in racehorses; however, studies have recently become available that show no direct effect of omeprazole on performance.

Tim Morris, the Authority’s Director of Equine Science and Welfare, commented: “Medication control in horse racing is essential to allow treatment for good welfare but also to ensure fair racing by medication withdrawal before racing. Trainers have asked for more information, especially on anti-ulcer medications, and we have used existing information to make a harmonised detection time for omeprazole available as soon as we could.”