EHV-1 Risk Level almost back to normal

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After successful implementations of protocols for horses by FEI and other organizations in different countries, the risk of infection of the EHV-1 Virus has finally reached normal levels. Soon we will be able to enjoy competitions that will take place in Europe from the 11th of April onwards.

FEI had decided to extend their shutdown earlier this year on equestrian competitions to prevent the spread of the virus. This meant the FEI World Cup Finals had to be cancelled for the second year in a row. On the bright side, there are new dates available for The Dutch Masters that, if everything goes according to plan, should take place from Friday 23rd till Sunday 25th of April.

The British Equestrian’s Equine Infectious Diseases Action Group (EIDAG) has been analysing the prevalence of EHV-1 diagnosis. Despite the outbreaks at competitions in the Iberian peninsula and subsequently across Europe, the number of cases have dropped extremely well.

British Equestrian Chief Executive Jim Eyre said “This is welcome news. We know that EHV is endemic in this country, but the threat posed by the European outbreak was a cause for great concern. I’d like to thank the member bodies and all their riders, owners and grooms, who embraced and followed the protocols so readily.”


How does the EHV-1 affect horses?

Equine Herpes Virus is a contagious disease affecting horses. There are nine strains of the virus, however EHV-1 and EHV-4 are the most commonly seen. Currently, the outbreak in Europe is due to the EHV-1 strain.

This strain of EHV-1 is particularly aggressive and has caused equine fatalities and a large number of severe clinical cases. Sadly, 18 horses have died due to the EHV-1 spread across Europe.

The neurological form of EHV-1 infection causes respiratory issues and can cause the death of horses. It also causes abortion in pregnant mares and young foals are at risk and can die from the infection.

How is the EHV-1 virus transmitted?

It can be transferred through the air from horse to horse if they are at a distance of 5 meters. Also, it can be transmitted on clothing or yard equipment if people are around infected horses. When transporting horses, they are at risk for disease transmission, as they can be contaminated and transmitted across horses.

For this reason, it is recommended that all equine transport vehicles are thoroughly cleaned between shipments. Likewise, stables should be cleaned regularly and disinfected between horses.


What will happen now with equestrian sports? 

Equestrian sports will slowly reschedule if conditions improve and the spread of the EHV-1 virus is at a normal level. Despite there is still a risk of another outbreak, hopefully another lockdown will not be necessary. 

Steadily, competitions are getting back to normal levels. Today the Grand National field is taking place in the UK behind closed doors and later on this month we shall expect The Dutch Masters in the Brabanthallen. 

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