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EI outbreak: Horse racing resumes
A risk-managed return to racing began on Wednesday, with strict biosecurity controls in place.
No further positive test results, BHA confirms 

Horse racing in Britain resumed on Wednesday (13 February), after being suspended due to an outbreak of equine influenza (EI).

A total of 10 cases have been detected in vaccinated racing horses since last week. Racing was cancelled across the country after three initial cases were identified at an active racing yard.

Surveillance by the Animal Health Trust (AHT) revealed a further three cases at the same yard, and four cases at a separate yard in Newmarket.

Following the latest test results and consultation with its veterinary committee, the BHA announced that a risk-managed return to racing would take place, with strict biosecurity controls in place.

BHA’s chief regulatory officer Brant Dunshea said: “After analysis of thousands of samples, and no further positive tests on Monday, we still only have two confirmed sites of infection. We have put robust containment measures in place around both.

“From the testing and analysis conducted the disease appears to be contained at present. The BHA veterinary committee believe that the swift controls on movement that were put in place have clearly helped to restrict the spread of this virus.”

Dunshea acknowledged that there is "clearly some risk" attached to a return to racing. However, he added: “This risk has been assessed and, based on the evidence – and ensuring biosecurity measures are in place – the level of risk is viewed as acceptable.”

BHA developed a risk framework to categorise trainers by the level of risk they were exposed to. Decisions about whether runners can return to racing depend on the risk categories the yards have been placed into.

No entries or declarations will be accepted from horses that have not been vaccinated in the past six months. Trainers will be required to provide a health declaration on arrival at racecourses.

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Public urged to provide homes for swifts

News Story 1
 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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News Shorts
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.”