Significant progress towards new African Horse Sickness vaccine 

14 May 2019

The International Horse Sports Confederation (IHSC) is pleased to announce that significant steps have been taken towards the identification of a new vaccine for African Horse Sickness (AHS).

Over the past three years, the IHSC has supported a number of research projects in collaboration with the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). These projects have aimed to address critical equine health and disease issues and to improve the international movement of horses. The IHSC has provided support for various scientific studies to develop or improve diagnosis assays or vaccines for diseases regarded as priority diseases which impede the safe international movement of horses.

AHS currently represents a serious challenge to the equine industry in the part of the world in which it is endemic, mainly Southern Africa. The current commercially available live attenuated AHS vaccines have shown to have limitations in terms of safety and suitability for endemic situations. An intensive project was supported to evaluate alternative AHS vaccine technologies.

An expert IHSC Working Group has worked diligently to identify an efficacious and safe DIVA AHS vaccine candidate. The DIVA capacity is critical since it allows a distinction between a horse vaccinated with the vaccine and a horse that has been infected. 

A potentially suitable vaccine candidate has now been identified by the IHSC Working Group. The candidate is an inactivated multivalent DIVA AHS vaccine. The preliminary view of the IHSC Working Group is that the vaccine candidate has the potential to be safe and efficacious, and may be used in endemic situations, as well as in outbreak situations in all ages and physiological groups.

The IHSC Working Group has also assessed the potential market for a new vaccine, and prepared a roadmap for the development of a vaccine. That roadmap proposes steps for the progression of the vaccine candidate’s development through to commercial production and effective future use. It is noted that the roadmap includes provision for a challenge study, which is considered as a necessary next step in order to demonstrate the ability of the vaccine candidate’s effectiveness against all nine AHS serotypes, and which will support regulatory registration of the vaccine.

The IHSC has now commenced consultations with key stakeholders in South Africa in order to share the research work and expertise, and to assist the industry through the next phases of the vaccine candidate’s development. Whilst emphasising the importance of industry support for the future success of any vaccine development, the IHSC will continue to provide technical guidance to the industry as required.

The Chairman of the IHSC and Chairman of the IFHA, Mr Louis Romanet, said:

“The IHSC believes that the development and production of a new AHS vaccine will be a major achievement, and will deliver a far-reaching positive impact on horse sports around the world.  

We are proud of the research achievements realised to date through the successful collaboration between the IHSC and the OIE. Indeed, the identification of a potential AHS vaccine candidate through this collaboration highlights the real power of the public-private partnership between the peak international horse sports bodies and the OIE.

The FEI and the IFHA have invested significant time and resources to assist with the development of an AHS vaccine to this point. We now look forward to working with industry, particularly in South Africa, in order to seek to prove up the vaccine candidate, and hopefully work through to development, production and widespread use. That will require more investment and time. However, we are confident that a new vaccine would be transformative for horse movements in and out of South Africa, which have been impacted by African Horse Sickness for too long.

FEI Veterinary Director Göran Akerström also commented:

“A new vaccine will also help to protect the world’s most valuable horse populations. It’s less than 30 years since AHS was present in Spain, even threatening the Olympic Games in Barcelona. The midge vector of the virus is present in Europe, and if the virus were to enter Europe there would be a major risk of a rapid spread of AHS. A traceable safe vaccine already available in vaccine banks would be a very effective first line of defence.”

-ENDS-

Editors’ Notes

 
The IHSC was established in 2013 and brought together the international bodies for major horse sports, being:

  • the Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI); and
  • the International Federation of Horse Racing Authorities (IFHA).

The key missions of the IHSC include:

  • being the official body for the relations of the horse industry with the OIE;
  • the exchange of information and technical knowledge between the FEI and IFHA;
  • the encouragement of cooperation between the FEI and IFHA on matters of mutual interest which affect horse sports;
  • the representation of the collective interests of the FEI and IHFA;

IFHA Chairman Louis Romanet was appointed as President of the IHSC in 2015. Ingmar De Vos, President of the FEI, is the Vice-President of the IHSC.

Other attendees at the meetings included, from the FEI: John McEwen, Senior Veterinary Advisor & Honorary Vice President; and Dr Göran Akerström , Veterinary Director; and from the IFHA: Winfried Engelbrecht-Bresges, Vice-Chairman; Andrew Harding, Executive Director; Dr Roland Devolz, Technical Advisor; and Andrew Chesser, Secretary General.

About the FEI

The Fédération Équestre Internationale (FEI), founded in 1921, is the international body governing equestrian sport recognised by the International Olympic Committee (IOC). The FEI is the sole controlling authority for all international events in Dressage & Para Dressage, Jumping, Eventing, Driving & Para Driving, Endurance, Vaulting and Reining.

The FEI establishes the regulations and approves equestrian programmes at Championships, Continental and Regional Games as well as the Olympic & Paralympic Games.

The FEI is based on the principle of equality and mutual respect between all 134 affiliated National Federations, without prejudice to race, religion or internal politics

The FEI promotes equestrianism in all its forms and encourages the development of the FEI equestrian disciplines throughout the world. The core values of the FEI are: fair play, equality, complicity with the animal and respect for the horse and the environment.

About the IFHA

The IFHA is the world peak body for the international sport of Thoroughbred racing. Its members are the national racing authorities across the globe which stage Thoroughbred races.

Major areas of the IFHA’s activities include:

•      Making and amending the International Agreement on Breeding, Racing and Wagering (the IABRW)

•      Policy development relating to welfare and safety of horses and riders

•      International Race Planning and Grading (“black type”)

•      World Rankings

•      Equine Prohibited Substances and Practices

•      Harmonization of Race Day Rules

•      Fostering commercial development of the racing industry globally

 

The IFHA is a foundation member with the FEI of the ISHC and is affiliated to the OIE.

 

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