European EHV-1 death toll at nine as 1500 horses prepare to head home

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© Sunshine Tour

Three more horse deaths have put the toll of the Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) outbreak in Europe at nine, with all but two occurring in Spain.

Update: Death toll now at 11

Two horses have died in Germany, two in Barcelona, and five in Valencia, the centre of the outbreak.

There are now six countries with confirmed cases: Spain, Germany, Belgium, France, Sweden and Qatar. There is a case in the US but it is not linked with the outbreak in Europe.

Late on Friday the FEI, horse sport’s world governing body, suspended the Sunshine Tour in Vejer de la Frontera in Spain after a second horse at the venue had been put into isolation after developing mild neurological signs and a slightly elevated temperature.

The first horse to show symptoms arrived directly from her home stables in Belgium and was fit and healthy with no symptoms. She competed for the first two weeks as normal and on the first day of competition in the third week, Monday, February 22.

On February 26 the personal veterinarian for the horse’s stables notified the organising committee that one of their horses had a fever. The horse was immediately isolated at a stable complex more than 2km from the competition venue.

“At first the symptoms that the horse was expressing appeared to be those of piroplasmosis and the horse was given a blood test for both piroplasmosis and for rhinoneumonitis, both results were negative,” Sunshine Tour organisers said.

“Over subsequent days both the competition vets and the FEI vets monitored the horse’s fever and condition twice a day. After a few days the fever had subsided.”

The mare first showed neurological symptoms on March 4. The second horse who entered isolation with mild neurological symptoms late on Friday prompted the suspension of the remainder of the Sunshire Tour.

Both horses are in the isolation stables two kilometres from the venue.

Spanish Veterinary Authorities are onsite to prepare health certificates for horses departing from the show venue, and the FEI is encouraging European Federations to set up stopover or transit stabling for the estimated 1500 horses leaving competition venues from Spain, Portugal and Italy.

“Given the long distances, horses will need to rest. It is vital that the stopover/transit stabling for horses have the proper biosecurity requirements in place to minimise the risk of further transmission of EHV-1.”

The French Equestrian Federation had taken the initiative to arrange stopover stabling for horses travelling through France, with the necessary biosecurity conditions with disinfection procedures and onsite veterinary support. Information on these locations is here.

“We urge all affected NFs to inform their athletes accordingly and to stress the importance of ensuring appropriate biosecurity measures throughout their journey and continuing on arrival home,” the FEI said.

Earlier articles:

» Top tips on keeping horses safe from EHV-1

» EHV outbreak forces cancellation of FEI events in 10 European countries

» Equine death toll at six in EHV-1 outbreak in Europe

» Equine Herpes Virus – the essential guide

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