Veterinary Team Managing EHV-1 Outbreak at Badminton

Veterinary Team Managing EHV-1 Outbreak at Badminton

Veterinary experts are managing the EHV-1 outbreak at the site of England's Badminton Horse Trials.

Photo: Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

The neurologic form of equine herpesvirus-1 (EHV-1) has struck the site of a major international equestrian event in England just weeks before the competition is slated to take place. But top veterinary experts are managing the outbreak to ensure the facilities will be disease-free in time for the renowned Badminton Horse Trials in May.

Thirty-three horses were evacuated from the Beaufort Hunt (Badminton) premises following the diagnosis of neurologic EHV-1 in a gelding that began showing clinical signs of disease on March 15, according to a veterinary statement posted on the Badminton Horse Trials website.

All of those horses are currently housed in three isolated lots of stables near the Beaufort Hunt stables in Cotswold (Gloucestershire) but still “sufficiently far away from the Badminton stables that they could not possibly transmit infection to any horses that comes into the stables,” Badminton spokesperson Hugh Thomas told The Horse. Meanwhile the entire Beaufort Hunt site is being thoroughly disinfected, and no horses will be allowed to enter the site until the Badminton Horse Trials begin in six weeks.

Six stablemates of the index case are housed together in one lot separate from the other quarantined horses, according to the statement. Clinical exams and nasal swab testing revealed that some of those six horses were positive for EHV-1, although none showed clinical signs. None of the other horses tested positive for the disease. The quarantined horses will continue to be monitored and tested weekly until the veterinary team has determined that there is no more risk of disease, Thomas added.

The index case is responding well to treatment and is expected to recover completely, said Thomas. One of the horse's stablemates is considered a suspected source of the outbreak, as it had been transported from near Stow on the Wold (about 50 miles away from Badminton), where there had been a recent EHV-1 outbreak. Except for the horse from Stow on the Wold, all the other horses were permanent residents at the Beaufort Hunt site, Thomas said.

The U.K. has also had recent outbreaks of the virus in the southwestern region of Gloucestershire (Moreton-in-Marsh, Evenlode, Lower Slaughter, Cotswold, and an unnamed nearby location) resulting in several equine deaths and canceled equestrian events, The Gazette reported.

Management of the outbreak was referred to Richard Newton, BVSc, MSc, PhD, DLSHTM, DipECVPH FRCVS, head of epidemiology and disease surveillance at The Animal Health Trust, in Newmarket, in an effort to ensure that the stables would be safe to receive international equine competitors in early May. The veterinary team also includes Paul Farrington, BVetMed, MRCVS, president of the FEI Veterinary Commission for the London Olympic Games and veterinary services manager for the Badminton Horse Trials; Mark Lucey, BVM&S, MRCVS, partner at the Bourton Vale Equine Clinic in Lower Slaughter; Tim Randle, BVSc, MRCVS, FEI Veterinary Delegate for the Badminton Horse Trials; and Jenny Hall, BVSc, MRCVS, assistant FEI Veterinary Delegate for the Badminton Horse Trials.

The Badminton Horse Trials, one of the few 4* eventing competitions in the world, are scheduled for May 2-6.

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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