Irish EIA Outbreak Leads to New British Testing Requirement

An outbreak of swamp fever - Equine Infectious Anaemia - in Ireland, with up to 18 horses reported to have been infected, appears to be in check but Britain has imposed controls from August 14 to try and stop the disease entering the country.

Runners in British races from Ireland will need a negative Coggins test prior to declaration being accepted while British-trained horses going to Ireland must be tested on their return.

Dr. Peter Webbon, chief executive of Britain’s Horseracing Regulatory Authority, commented: "I have held industry-wide discussions with the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA), the British Equine Veterinary Association, the Irish Racing Authorities, the Animal Health Trust and stakeholders in racing over here.

"Whilst the risk of the spread of the disease within Ireland and over to Great Britain is low, we feel we need to introduce a requirement for testing both to safeguard the British racehorse population and to create a database of movements to which we can refer if the situation in Ireland deteriorates.

"Like DEFRA, we are keeping the situation under constant review and further measures could be taken as and when the need arises."

The usually fatal disease was first spotted in Ireland in June and is believed to have originated in blood plasma imported from another European country.

A sick mare was sent to Troytown Veterinary Hospital and she infected others in the same 16-box barn before being put down on June 14.

These cases started to emerge on July 19 and Troytown Veterinary Hospital was shut down for three weeks to make sure all infected horses could be traced and identified, with non-infected horses put into isolation.

An American expert, Charles J. Issel, DVM, PhD, of the Gluck Equine Reserach Center in Kentucky, was brought in to help deal with the outbreak.

All the cases so far in Ireland have so far been traced back to a single source.

About the Author

Mark Popham

Mark Popham also writes for The Blood-Horse, sister magazine to The Horse.

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