BHA STATEMENT FOLLOWING DEFRA’S ANNOUNCEMENT OF AN OUTBREAK OF EQUINE INFECTIOUS ANAEMIA

22 Jan 2010 Pre-2014 Releases

Defra have issued an announcement of an outbreak of Equine Infectious Anaemia (swamp fever) in England.

In response, Tim Morris, Director of Equine Science and Welfare for the Authority, said:
“Defra have involved the BHA in their planning and assessment. The horses are not competition or racehorses, or breeding animals. Disease containment controls are on premises not areas, and at a present Defra do not think racing will be affected, or that the risk of spread is high – it is spread by biting flies and such spread is unlikely at this time of year and with the current weather.

“Nevertheless, racing should not be complacent. The Authority does consider that, as horses with the disease are persistently infected, that the humane destruction of the horses that have been affected is necessary. It has advised all its Veterinary Officers and relevant racing stakeholders to be aware of the signs of this disease. This emphasises the need for continued vigilance for all horse diseases in the UK.”

For more information please contact: Professor Tim Morris, BHA Director of Equine Science and Welfare, on 020 7152 0110, or at tmorris@britishhorseracing.com

Notes for Editors:

Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA) is an exotic viral disease that affects horses, mules and donkeys. It is caused by a lentivirus and is spread via biting insects. It does not commonly occur in Great Britain although the last confirmed outbreak in the UK was in 1976. It is however, still present in other parts of the world. Horses are most likely to become infected when travelling abroad to countries, or areas of countries, where the disease is endemic, or from the use of biological products infected with the EIA virus. EIA is often fatal to horses. If the affected animal recovers it remains a lifelong carrier of the disease and will thereby be infectious to other animals, therefore all infected animals must be humanely destroyed to control the spread of disease.

Defra’s press release can be found at: http://www.defra.gov.uk/news/2010/100119a.htm