A leading Staffordshire vets has issued advice after equine flu was diagnosed in three vaccinated horses from nearby Cheshire.

Race meetings across the country were cancelled on Thursday (Feb 7) after three cases of the condition were confirmed at a Cheshire yard, which had sent horses to race meets in Ludlow and Ayr on Wednesday.

Megan Edwards, an equine vet from Shires Vets, which has six practices across Staffordshire, said:

“It is concerning and we want to warn owners to look out for the signs.

“The three vaccinated horses diagnosed with equine influenza were from Cheshire, which is not far from us, so we understand people will be worried.

“Symptoms include a harsh, dry cough, nasal discharge, general lethargy and a temperature.

“Horse owners need to be wary as these symptoms can often be a lot milder and harder to spot in horses which have been vaccinated, but that doesn’t mean their horse doesn’t have it. And not all of these symptoms will be present in all cases.

“If owners spot anything of this nature, they should isolate the horse straight away and contact their vets. It may be they are given advice over the phone or a vet might have to come out and take swabs and bloods. These can be then tested by the Animal Health Trust (AHT).”

Megan said the AHT will carry out the laboratory tests for free.

She said the present advice is that horses which have not been vaccinated in the last six months should be boosted, and any horse whose vaccinations have lapsed should be restarted.

Equine flu is rarely fatal but unvaccinated young and geriatric horses are more likely to be affected. It is highly contagious.

There is no known risk to humans who are exposed to an infected animal.

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