Equine Influenza Hits FEI Event at La Baule, France

Show officials removed two horses competing at the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI) Nations Cup show jumping event in La Baule, France, from the show grounds on May 11 after the animals tested positive for equine influenza.

Four additional horses handled by the same grooms as the two positive horses were also removed. The positive influenza tests come in the midst of an outbreak of the contagious equine disease among international-level competition horses in Normandy, France.

The affected horses showed no signs of illness, and the laboratory test gives no indication of the virus' activity level or the horse's risk of contagion, according to an FEI press release.

"These measures, which could be viewed as being excessive, have been put in place after consultation with all parties involved to ensure the health status of all the horses at La Baule," said Graeme Cooke, MA, VetMB, MRCVS, FEI veterinary director. Cooke noted that the measures met the approval of the World Animal Health Organization (OIE).

In addition to the FEI Nations Cup at La Baule, horses competing at recent events in Le Touquet, Saint Gatien-Deauville, or Haras du Pin, all in France, or at the Toscana Tour in Italy, could have been exposed to equine influenza, according to the French Surveillance Center for Equine Pathologies (RESPE), which held a special meeting May 11 to discuss monitoring and managing the outbreak.

In a May 12 press release, RESPE recommended owners of horses participating in these events closely monitor their horses and exclude them from upcoming events if influenza is suspected or confirmed, or if laboratory results are pending.

RESPE also strongly recommended that if horses have not been vaccinated against equine influenza within the past six months--the FEI protocol--they should be revaccinated before attending competitions with horses that might have competed at the aforementioned events.

The surveillance center also published a list of preventive and cautionary measures for owners of horses at risk of exposure in order to contain the epidemic as much as possible, the RESPE stated. This includes the one-week quarantine of horses returning from sites of possible infection.

About the Author

Christa Lesté-Lasserre, MA

Christa Lesté-Lasserre is a freelance writer based in France. A native of Dallas, Texas, Lesté-Lasserre grew up riding Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Shetland Ponies. She holds a master’s degree in English, specializing in creative writing, from the University of Mississippi in Oxford and earned a bachelor's in journalism and creative writing with a minor in sciences from Baylor University in Waco, Texas. She currently keeps her two Trakehners at home near Paris. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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