Published: Fri, February 08, 2019
Sport | By Kayla Schwartz

Equine flu: Outbreak 'quite frightening' - trainer Tim Vaughan

Equine flu: Outbreak 'quite frightening' - trainer Tim Vaughan

An outbreak of equine flu forced racing into a dramatic six-day shutdown to blow the biggest hole in the sport's programme since the foot-and-mouth crisis that put paid to the Cheltenham Festival in 2001.

Part of what's scaring people so much about this recent diagnosis of equine flu is the fact that the horses who have tested positive for the disease had been previously vaccinated against it.

McCain sent out runners at Ludlow and Ayr on Wednesday afternoon before vets later informed him of the news, with the trainer then contacting the British Horseracing Authority.

Equine influenza is a highly infectious disease of horses, mules and donkeys occurring globally caused by strains of Influenza A virus.

"The action to cancel racing has been viewed as necessary in order to restrict, as far as possible, the risk of further spread of the disease".

David Sykes, director of equine health and welfare at the BHA, added: "We would like to thank Donald McCain for his co-operation in this matter, and for the responsible manner in which he has dealt with this issue, under the guidance of his veterinary surgeon".

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The BHA is expected to announce on Monday plans for resuming racing but for now, racing has been halted until at least next Wednesday, Feb. 13.

"The disease can take up to three days before symptoms are visible, meaning it will take until Sunday at the earliest before the BHA can gather all the information required".

"We know we're not going to be in a position, given the incubation period of the disease, to make a decision about returning to racing until first thing next week at the very earliest. We recommend that any trainer who has concerns about the health status of any of their horses should contact their veterinarian".

The BHA was informed on Wednesday evening by the Animal Health Trust about the three confirmed cases at the McCain stable.

Racing had been due to take place on Thursday at several tracks, with more races planned for the weekend.

"When new horses arrive at our yard we, as much as possible, try to keep them separate but at this stage can not know if the infection came from recent arrivals or from horses returning from racing". Ireland's Horseracing Regulatory Board said racing will continue in the country "at present" but that runners from Britain will not be permitted to run in Ireland until further notice.

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