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Horse racing body changes flu vaccination rules
Earlier this year, a number of influenza outbreaks were confirmed in vaccinated racehorses across the country, prompting races to be cancelled for nearly a week.
Eight months to become the new standard for vaccine renewal

Racehorses will need to be vaccinated against equine influenza every eight months from 2020, under new rules introduced after a series of disease outbreaks earlier this year.

The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) introduced a temporary measure in February, requiring all horses in training to have a booster vaccination every six months. Boosters were previously required only once a year.

The decision came after a number of influenza outbreaks in vaccinated racehorses across the country, prompting all races to be cancelled for nearly a week. Vets at the Animal Health Trust revealed that a new strain of equine influenza - Florida Clade 1 H3N8 - was responsible for the outbreaks.

Whilst cases were identified in vaccinated horses, the current vaccine offers a greater degree of protection than previously thought, particularly when a booster has been recently administered. Vaccinated horses show milder symptoms and recover more quickly, the trust says.

The BHA’s veterinary committee recommended six months as the optimum period for vaccine renewal, however the BHA said it has taken trainers’ views into account that this may result in horses being vaccinated during their racing seasons. As a compromise, eight months will become the new standard from 1 January 2020.

In the meantime, from 1 May 2019, horses presented at racecourses will need to have been vaccinated against equine influenza within the past nine months.

BHA also announced that from 1 May, British-trained runners from licensed yards will no longer require a health declaration form to be submitted on arrival at the racecourse. International runners and Hunter Chasers from unlicensed yards will still be required to provide the declaration and a negative result for equine influenza, no more than 72 hours prior to arrival at the racecourse.

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Nominations open for National Cat Awards 2020

News Story 1
 UK charity Cats Protection has announced that cat owners can nominate their pets for the National Cat Awards 2020 starting today.

The awards take place annually, celebrating heart warming stories of the positive impact that cats have on their owners. Cat owners have until Thursday 12 March to submit their nominations through the Cats Protection website. 

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Restriction zone lifted at Suffolk chicken farm

A one-kilometre restriction zone around a commercial chicken farm in mid-Suffolk has been lifted, following the completion of surveillance testing for avian influenza H5N3 with negative results.

Some 27,000 birds on the premises were culled after a veterinary surgeon identified the disease while investigating a fall in egg production. Poultry keepers are urged to take action to reduce the risk of disease in their flock by following government advice on biosecurity.