Update On Foot and Mouth Recommendations

Release from Great Britain’s Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Food (MAFF)

5 June 2001

Advice for horse owners during the foot and mouth outbreak

Though horses are not susceptible to infection by foot and mouth they may act as mechanical vectors and be involved in spreading infection.

Material from an infected animal (dung, hair etc.) could be carried on hooves, bodies and tack of horses and by the rider. It could be carried from areas containing infected animals to previously "clean" areas.

General advice

You should not ride on other peoples' land if you have handled or been in contact with FMD susceptible livestock. Certain rights of way will be closed, and you must comply with the closure notices and keep off the bridleway. Where rights of way are open you should follow the advisory code which should be displayed. Do not approach or handle livestock, and do not take dogs with you whilst riding. Take any waste, including food, home with you.

Some equine activities are prohibited in an infected area. These include hunting and point to point meetings.

Before and after riding you should:

  • disinfect all footwear used;
  • clean and disinfect the horse's feet Practical advice to horse owners whose horses are kept on farm premises where there are FMD susceptible livestock

Also, practical advice to horse owners whose horses are kept on farm premises where there are FMD susceptible livestock:

  • Horse owners may spread FMD after contact with infected livestock if boots, clothes and equipment are contaminated.
  • Do not handle or touch farm livestock and avoid areas contaminated with their manure or slurry.
  • Comply with farmer's own disease precautions.
  • Only ride on roads, or by arrangement on dedicated farmland which has been free from livestock for 28 days.
  • Either keep a set of dedicated clothes on farm premises or arrive in clean clothes on every occasion.
  • If you leave the farm to exercise your horse, ensure your feet are dipped in disinfectant and that your horses feet are picked out and disinfected before doing so.
  • If you have dismounted in the course of your ride, then disinfect your boots before re-entering the farm premises.
  • Where possible leave vehicles outside farms or close to the farm boundary and away from livestock. Horses in infected areas

Horses in an infected area or on an infected premises will not be slaughtered because of foot and mouth as they are not affected by the disease.

Horses will not be quarantined on farms in infected areas. Horses on infected farms will not be able to move off the farm until the restrictions (Form A) are removed.

Can horses be vaccinated against FMD?

No. There would be no point in vaccinating against a disease they cannot catch.

Export of horses

These are not covered by the present EU export ban.

Individual countries may impose national rules. Always check with the authorities of the importing country

NOTE: Information will also be found in the following risk assessments, which can be found at http://www.maff.gov.uk/animalh/diseases/fmd/risk.htm.

  • VRA No 4 Footpaths
  • VRA No 10 Horseracing
  • VRA No 12 Equine events on agricultural land
  • VRA No 14 Equine events on non-agricultural land.
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