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Four new cases of equine influenza confirmed
The BHA is expected to make a decision this evening (11 February) about whether racing can recommence on Wednesday.

Vets confirm strain is Florida Clade 1 

Four further cases of equine influenza have been identified in vaccinated thoroughbreds at a yard in Newmarket.

The affected yard, which belongs to Simon Crisford, is one of 174 yards being subjected to testing as runners competed at the Newcastle fixture on 5 February, which was identified as an at-risk fixture.

No non-urgent journeys should be made to this yard and anyone wishing to travel there should contact the trainer’s office first, according to advice from the British Horseracing Authority (BHA). The Newmarket community, including veterinary surgeries, trainers, farriers and the racing school are urged to continue to practice increased biosecurity.

Over the weekend, a further three cases of equine influenza were also detected at the original affected yard, bringing the total to six.

The strain of equine influenza has been confirmed as Florida Clade 1, which is endemic to North and South America, according to BHA’s veterinary committee. British horses are vaccinated against strains 1 and 2, and while cases are being seen in vaccinated horses, inoculatation still offers some protection, BHA said.

Thousands of nasal swabs have been sent out for testing and the Animal Health Trust is working to carry out testing as quickly as possible.

The BHA is expected to make a decision this evening (11 February) about whether racing can recommence on Wednesday.

David Sykes, director of equine health and welfare for the BHA, said on Sunday (10 February): “It remains paramount that, for the sake of our horse population, we do not take any unnecessary risks. This is not a common cold, it is a highly contagious and potentially serious disease.

“The prioritisation exercise with regards to testing will help deliver a detailed picture of the spread of infection. Targeted testing, alongside the wide survey of data we have already gathered, will help provide a clear picture as to the scale of the spread of the disease. Any decision will include guidance and input from veterinary experts, including the industry’s veterinary committee.”

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RSPCA braced for ‘hectic hedgehog month’

News Story 1
 The RSPCA says that it is bracing itself for a ‘hectic hedgehog month’ after calls to the charity about the creatures peaked this time last year.

More than 10,000 calls about hedgehogs were made to the RSPCA’s national helpline in 2018, 1,867 of which were in July. This compares with just 133 calls received in February of the same year.

Evie Button, the RSPCA’s scientific officer, said: “July is our busiest month for hedgehogs. Not only do calls about hedgehogs peak, but so do admissions to our four wildlife centres as members of the public and our own officers bring in orphaned, sick or injured animals for treatment and rehabilitation.” 

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ASF traces found in seized meat at NI airport

More than 300kg of illegal meat and dairy products were seized at Northern Ireland’s airports in June, DAERA has revealed.

A sample of these were tested at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute, resulting in the detection of African swine fever DNA fragments.

DAERA said that while the discovery does not pose a significant threat to Northern Ireland’s animal health status, it underlines the importance of controls placed on personal imports of meat and dairy products. Holidaymakers travelling overseas are being reminded not to bring any animal or plant products back home.