Biosecurity is a vital part of equestrian sport. The FEI has specific regulations and requirements in place to minimise transmission of diseases at Events, nationally and across borders.
Over the past five years, the FEI has proactively upgraded the regulations as well as the education of National Head Veterinarians (NHVs) to improve biosecurity and increase prevention measures.
In 2016, the FEI started education of NHVs, as well as upgraded biosecurity provisions and prevention measures within the FEI Veterinary Regulations during 2017, which were implemented on 1 January 2018. An extract of all the relevant articles from the current Veterinary Regulations regarding biosecurity and relevant to the current outbreak are available below.
The FEI also has the following informative/educational materials regarding biosecurity:
See the FEI’s response to the current EHV-1 outbreak here.
The following Articles from the FEI Veterinary Regulations are relevant to all disease outbreaks and, particularly, the prevention of outbreaks.
Chapter II, part II, is dedicated to Biosecurity Requirements for Event Organisers:
Article 1016: Working with Veterinary Authorities
1. The relevant national veterinary authority must be consulted regarding the return of Horses to their countries of residence after the Event. The provision of health certificates during non-office hours may be required.
2. OCs and FEI Veterinarians are required to work closely in facilitating the requirements for the temporary importation of Horses to compete.
Article 1017: Prevention of Disease Transmission
1. OCs are responsible for ensuring that all biosecurity requirements, as set forth in these VRs, are strictly followed at all times.
2. Horse transporters and stables should be cleaned and disinfected before they are used and between different Horses.
3. The use of common water troughs is not permitted, individual water and feed buckets should be used. An exception is granted for Endurance Events where use of a common water trough is accepted where the water is drawn with a clean bucket. Horses must not drink from the trough.
4. Disinfection mats and foot baths must be made available at the entry and exit points of the stables in the case of a suspicion or an actual infectious disease outbreak.
5. Hand washing facilities and alcohol hand gels must be widely available to all persons handling Horses.
Article 1018: Contingency Planning
1. All Events require a contingency plan of how stable blocks may be isolated, should a disease risk become apparent. The OC must work with the VSM to ensure that all required equipment is provided.
2. The Event’s biosecurity contingency plan must include the methods of separating groups of Horses from the stables area should any Horse show clinical signs of infectious disease. A plan for the management of in-contact Horses which enables them to continue competing is required.
3. OCs must maintain a record of where Horses have been stabled during the Event.
4. OCs must record contact details and determine communication methods for all PRs and veterinarians present at the Event.
Chapter III of the Veterinary Regulations is a general chapter on Biosecurity:
Article 1027: Prevention of Infectious Disease Transmission across Borders
1. All national veterinary authority requirements for the temporary importation of Horses for competition by the host national government and other national provisions relating to equine health must be strictly implemented, as required by law.
2. OCs intending to hold Events must notify their appropriate national veterinary authority and consult with them regarding the return of Horses to their countries of residence, as described in Article 1016.
3. PRs and their Support Personnel must comply with government animal health requirements for the temporary importation of Horses as described in Article 1099.
4. PRs have a responsibility to be aware of government requirements applicable to the Horses under their care, and to advise their Support Personnel to ensure compliance.
Article 1028: Prevention of Infectious Disease Transmission
1. Good biosecurity practices must be implemented at all times for all FEI registered Horses, including at the premises of origin, at competition venues and during transport.
2. PRs must ensure that:
a) all FEI registered Horses intending to compete at FEI Events must be vaccinated against Equine Influenza in accordance with Article 1003 unless national legislation prevents the use of Equine Influenza vaccines; and
b) they obtain information regarding any additional vaccinations that may be required based on their geographical region and the equine infectious diseases risk in that area.
3. Hands must be washed and an alcohol hand gel applied or disposable gloves changed, before contact between different Horses or Horses of a different health status.
4. Direct (nose-to-nose) contact must be minimised between Horses that are not regularly in contact.
5. The use of common water troughs is not permitted, individual water and feed buckets should be used. An exception is granted for Endurance Events where use of a common water trough is accepted where the water is drawn with a clean bucket. Horses must not drink from the trough.
6. Halters, leads, rugs, tack, buckets, face grooming towels and other equipment must be restricted to one Horse only – a recognition system per item assigned to each Horse is recommended.
Equipment should not be shared unless it is disinfected between Horses.
Horse transporters and stables should be cleaned and disinfected before they are used between different Horses.
Article 1029: Biosecurity at FEI Events
1. The VD/VC must ensure the Examination on Arrival is carried out according to Article 1031.
2. While Horses are present on the Event venue, their temperature should be taken at least once daily and recorded by the PR. Any change in the health status of the Horse should be immediately reported to the VD.
3. OCs must provide Isolation Stables as described in Article 1008 and a contingency plan according to Article 1018 should an infectious disease outbreak occur.
4. Horses must be stabled in the isolation stables if they show any clinical signs of infectious disease, or have been in contact with other Horses that show clinical signs of infectious disease. These Horses must be refused permission to enter the Event stables and stabled in isolation stables pending recovery, or until alternative arrangements have been made.
5. Horse(s) developing clinical signs of infectious disease must be immediately managed according to Article 1078.
6. Horses recently recovered from an illness, or suspected of illness during an Event, must be reported to the VC/VD. On the written recommendation of the VC/VD and in accordance with the GRs and VRs, the GJ will decide whether the Horse may compete or continue to compete at the Event.
7. Horses that show clinical signs of neurological Equine Herpes Virus, or have been in contact with such Horses, will not be allowed access to FEI Events by the VD/VC and GJ. Any affected or in-contact Horse may not be entered in future FEI Events until they have fulfilled health requirements as determined by the FEI Veterinary Department.*
8. No equine reproductive activity may take place at FEI Events.
* this provision was added in 2020
Chapter IV is dedicated to Veterinary Control at FEI Events, with Article 1031 referring to Examination on Arrival. Points 3d, 7, 8 and 9 are particularly relevant to biosecurity prevention and considerations:
3. d) During the Examination on Arrival, the veterinarian must ensure that the Horses do not have any clinical signs of infectious disease. This may include a clinical examination to assess the heart, respiratory rate, body temperature and the checking of any other clinical parameters.
7. Horses that have any relevant clinical findings must be reported to the VC/ VD as soon as possible.
8. Any biosecurity concern must be immediately reported to the VC/ VD.
9. Horses must be stabled in the isolation stables if they show any clinical signs of infectious disease, or have been in contact with other Horses that show clinical signs of infectious disease. These Horses must be refused permission to enter the Event stables and stabled in isolation stables pending recovery, or until alternative arrangements have been made.
Chapter VIII, dedicated to Emergency Procedures, has specific instructions regarding infectious diseases, in particular:
Article 1078: Infectious Disease
1. Horses suspected of developing any clinical signs of infectious disease must be reported immediately to the VC/ VD and FEI Veterinary Department.
2. Horse(s) developing clinical signs of infectious disease must immediately be sent to the isolation stables and strict biosecurity measures must be implemented. Any relevant diagnostic test(s) required to establish the cause of the disease, as recommended by the VSM or PTV and agreed with the VD must be carried out at the expense of the PR. Details of the test(s) carried out and result must be reported to the VD and FEI Veterinary Department.
3. In the event of identifying in-contact Horses at the Event venue, strict biosecurity measures must be implemented as required.
4. Confirmed disease situations must be immediately reported to the FEI Veterinary Department by the VC/ VD.
Chapter X, dedicated to National Federation responsibilities, includes Article 1090 regarding biosecurity and International Horse Movements:
Article 1090: Biosecurity and International Horse Movements
1. NFs must promote biosecurity awareness and good biosecurity practices in accordance with Chapter III and distribute any relevant, official communications to their stakeholders.
2. NFs, in conjunction with their NHV, are responsible for understanding government policies and facilitating in the prevention of disease transmission associated with international Horse movements.
3. NFs, assisted by their NHV, must be familiar with government authority requirements for the hosting of international equestrian events in their country.
4. NFs must supply a calendar of FEI events to the appropriate national veterinary authority each year.
The FEI Veterinary Regulations are available in clean and mark-up versions here.