We are very happy to welcome you to the veterinarian hub of the FEI website. Within the following pages, you will find useful information and advice on specific issues relevant to your role as a Veterinarian working at an FEI event either in a treating or official capacity.
We would like to remind you that it is the paramount responsibility of all those involved in equestrian sport to ensure a high health and welfare status of the horses they are in charge of. To this end, the FEI Equine Welfare Code of Conduct must be complied with at all times. As Veterinary health professionals supporting equestrianism throughout the world, you play an essential role in protecting the welfare of all competing horses. You are also responsible for implementing the FEI Veterinary Regulations and ensuring fair play. You are, moreover, expected to be familiar with the FEI Equine Anti-Doping and Controlled Medication Regulations and the FEI Equine Prohibited Substances List, which can be found on the FEI Clean Sport website.
The World Animal Health Organisation (OIE) was notified on 27 March by the Department of Livestock Development (DLD), the veterinary authority of Thailand, of an outbreak of African Horse Sickness (AHS) in the Pak Chong district, Nakorn in the north-east of the country. In the initial notification, 341 horses were reported susceptible, of which 62 were confirmed infected. Out of these 62 horses, 42 are reported to have died.
A further two outbreaks were reported to the OIE on 3 April. One outbreak occurred in Hua Hin district, in the Prachuap Khiri Khan province where 10 horses out of a group of 15 susceptible horses have died. In the Ko Chan district of the Chon Buri province, there were 33 susceptible horses of which 6 were infectious. Five out of the 6 horses died.
As a result of the outbreak, the OIE has suspended the AHS-free status of Thailand.
AHS is spread by insect vectors such as midges and some types of mosquitos and ticks. All species of equidae can be infected by the disease. Horses and mules often die from the infection, while donkeys are much less susceptible and zebras rarely show clinical signs. The disease can be caused by any of nine serotypes of the virus. The serotype in this outbreak has not yet been communicated by DLD.
Please visit the OIE website for more information on AHS.
Having been briefed by DLD, the Thailand Equestrian Federation immediately took measures, restricting movement of horses by their members. The Federation is also in close contact with the FEI Veterinary Department and Jack Huang, FEI Vice President and Chair of FEI Regional Group VIII.
DLD has reported that the following measures have been taken:
• Movement control inside the country
• Surveillance outside containment and/or protection zone
• Surveillance within containment and/or protection zone
• Control of vectors
• Vector surveillance
• Vaccination permitted (if a vaccine exists)
• No treatment of affected animals
The FEI is working closely with its partners – the OIE and the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA) under the umbrella body, the International Horse Sport Confederation (IHSC) – to support the Thai authorities and sport horse industry to stop this outbreak.
An outbreak of Glanders has been contained on the island of Büyükada, the largest of the nine Princes’ Islands off Istanbul (TUR). Turkish authorities culled 81 horses on the island in December, barred the entry and exit of animals on the island and have also banned the use of horse-drawn carriages on Büyükada for a three-month period to prevent the spread of the disease. A further three outbreaks have been reported in the provinces of Bolu in the north west of the country and Uşak in the interior part of the Aegean region, resulting in an additional 11 horses being culled by the Turkish authorities.
As glanders is a notifiable disease, the Turkish authorities formally notified the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) of the outbreaks on 23 and 31 December. The FEI and European Equestrian Federation (EEF) were informed of the initial outbreak in Büyükada by the Turkish National Head Veterinarian on 19 December. As the outbreaks have been contained and all necessary biosecurity measures have been implemented, there is no impact on FEI events at this point, but the Turkish authorities are continuing to provide regular updates to the FEI and the EEF. There was a previous outbreak of glanders in Turkey two years ago.
Glanders is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia mallei. It primarily affects equidae (horses, donkeys and mules), but the bacteria that cause glanders can be transmitted to humans through contact with tissues or body fluids of infected animals. There is currently no vaccine against glanders, but strict biosecurity measures are an effective preventative. Control depends on early detection and humane destruction of seropositive animals to stop the spread of the disease.
The British government has issued guidance on the movement of horses in the event Britain does not finalise a withdrawal agreement with European Union (EU) negotiators by 29 March 2019. With just weeks to go until the 29 March deadline, the British Parliament has yet to approve the terms of withdrawal negotiated with the EU. In the event that Britain leaves the EU without a deal, the travel requirements for horses after 29 March will depend on: 1) whether the EU lists Britain as a ‘third country’ (i.e. countries and regions outside the European Union), and 2) the health status category in which the EU places Britain. The British government is continuing to negotiate with the European Commission on securing listed status for Britain, which would enable the continued movement of horses to EU member states. However, in case of a ‘no deal’, horse owners need to be aware that horses travelling from the EU to Britain:
Currently we have been informed that there will not be any changes to import regulations for FEI horses travelling from the EU into Britain, but updates will be provided. The guidance is designed to give horse owners as much time to prepare for these new processes and factor in any extra travel time they may require when travelling to and from the EU. The guidance issued by the British government can be found here. British-based horse owners and those planning to transport FEI registered horses to Britain to compete at FEI events are encouraged to refer to this site frequently for updates on the situation.
The current outbreaks of equine influenza have the potential to impact the entire equestrian industry, but there are measures that can be taken to protect horses and prevent further transmission of the disease.
By 8 February 2019, multiple outbreaks have been confirmed in Belgium, France, Germany, Ireland, Nigeria, Great Britain and the United States of America.
What is equine influenza?
Equine influenza is a highly contagious virus which causes respiratory disease in horses. The virus is endemic to most countries of the world and outbreaks can have severe impacts on the equine industry including restrictions on horse movement and cancelled events.
How is the disease transmitted?
Equine influenza is transmitted between horses by aerosol transmission from coughing horses. The virus can spread up to two kilometres depending on the environmental conditions. It can also be spread on clothing and yard equipment by people working with infected horses.
Horse transport is also a risk for disease transmission. Lorries and trailers in which infected horses have travelled may be contaminated with the virus and transmit the disease to others. Thorough cleaning of all equine transport vehicles must be carried out between shipments.
Equine influenza can be easily transmitted between horses that are in close contact, e.g. attending events, group training and hunting. Horses can become infected and bring the disease to their home yard and transmit the virus to other horses.
What clinical signs should I look out for?
Horses infected with the virus can develop a fever before showing any clinical signs of the disease. It is at this point that horses are shedding large quantities of the virus into the environment and can easily transmit the disease to others. Infected horses develop depression, loss of appetite and have a harsh, dry cough.
Infected horses can develop complications. It is not uncommon for them to suffer secondary bacterial infections and develop nasal discharge. Horses can die as a result of complications, but this is rare.
The horses most at risk are those that are unvaccinated, young, old or already compromised by other diseases e.g. Cushing’s disease (PPID).
I suspect my horse has influenza. What should I do?
It is very important that horses showing the early signs of the disease are examined by a veterinarian. Since infected horses show similar clinical signs to other infectious respiratory infections, your veterinarian should take nasopharyngeal swabs and blood samples which will be sent for laboratory analysis to confirm the diagnosis.
How quickly do horses recover?
Recovery rates from equine influenza are variable and depend on the severity of the clinical signs. The respiratory tract can take between 50 to 100 days to fully recover after infection. Putting a horse back into work before it is fully recovered can jeopardise its long-term health.
How can I protect my horses?
Horses that have been vaccinated in accordance with manufacturer’s instructions or FEI requirements will be very well protected against equine influenza. Although no vaccine is 100% effective, it has been clear from recent outbreaks that vaccinated horses have suffered only mild clinical signs of the disease and recovered quickly. Unvaccinated horses have been much more severely affected.
Since horses that have been in close contact with others away from home can introduce influenza to their home stables, it is vital that all horses and ponies are vaccinated, even if they don’t leave their home stables. This is critical to reducing the severity of infections and viral transmission.
The FEI recommends that horses which have mixed with others are closely monitored on their return home and their rectal temperature taken twice daily. Horses that have a fever must be examined by a veterinarian as soon as possible.
All FEI horses must have an up-to-date vaccination history in their passports and checks are carried out on entry to all FEI events.
Any horse that displays any signs of illness should not leave their home yard. This also applies to any horse that has been in contact with a horse or horses that have equine influenza. Call your veterinarian.
Please visit FEI Campus for a course on Equine Influenza: A Horse Owners Guide.
The US Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has temporarily closed the Miami Animal Import Center to new arrivals after six horses quarantined or recently released from the facility became sick.
hese horse had clinical signs including diarrhea, fever and founder. We have been informed by APHIS that, despite treatment, three horses have died or been euthanized due to very severe clinical signs. Salmonella has been found in the first horse that got sick and analyses are ongoing on samples from the other horses.
There are still horses quarantined in the facility and APHIS is stepping up biosecurity and taking additional precautions to prevent further spread of the infection. Shipping agents are working closely with APHIS to ensure a safe release of these horses. The Miami Animal Import Center will be closed until 31 March 2019.
The latest information from APHIS is available here.