Death of 18th horse in European EHV-1 outbreak

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A horse who had been recovering from EHV-1 in Valencia has been euthanised at a veterinary clinic in Barcelona, bringing the total number of related deaths in the European outbreak to 18.

The death of the horse was reported by the FEI at the weekend, and as of late last week, there were no new reported outbreaks of EHV-1 linked to Spain. The figures remain static at 31 outbreaks in 10 countries, the FEI said.

The organisation has been unblocking horses from its database after they have completed the required isolation period and returned a negative PCR test. Extra veterinary support has been brought in to process the PCR test results received for blocked horses. Nearly 4000 sport horses had been blocked from competition amid the outbreak.

Following their second meeting, the FEI’s Veterinary Epidemiology Working Group agreed that there is currently no evidence indicating that it would be unsafe to return to international competition in mainland Europe as planned on April 12, provided the mandated enhanced preventive measures are implemented.

“The outbreak appears to be well-contained following updates from National Federations. The reported case numbers seem to be reducing and there have been no reports of disease transmission to tertiary premises within the last week,” the group said.

However, both Germany and Switzerland are intending to lift  EHV-1 restrictions to allow national competitions to restart on March 29.

The FEI is providing financial support for the ongoing scientific work around laboratory analysis of positive samples for gene typing, and plans are being drawn up for data collection in order to further research the outbreaks. Data was also being gathered to determine whether mandatory vaccination has reduced EHV outbreaks in France.

The working group has enlisted the assistance of internal medicines specialist Dr Anne Courouce, who was assigned by the French National Federation to support the veterinary work in Valencia.

The final four British horses in Valencia are scheduled to leave on March 31. Some 13 horses from Sweden and Britain left Valencia at the weekend, with another 12 to depart on March 29.

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