Equine Influenza

There is currently an ongoing equine influenza outbreak within the UK. Cases have been diagnosed in Cheshire and the surrounding areas in recent weeks and we are urging clients to be cautious. The Animal Health Trust (AHT) publish regular influenza updates via their dedicated influenza website and our practice is a member of their influenza surveillance scheme. 

Influenza is a virus and is one of the diseases we routinely vaccinate for in horses. We encourage all horses who have not had a vaccination for influenza within the last 6 months to have a booster vaccination as soon as possible. We advise unvaccinated horses begin their primary course of combined influenza & tetanus vaccinations, which consists of one vaccination, followed by a second vaccination 4-6 weeks later, followed by a third vaccination 5-6 months after the second. Please contact reception if you would like to book in for a vaccination on 0151 794 6199.

Clinical signs of influenza include:

- Lethargy
- Cough (usually harsh and dry)
- Nasal discharge 
- High temperature (above 38.3'C)
- Dull, not themselves, off food
- Rapid spread to other in-contact horses

Influenza is highly contagious and will spread rapidly between horses, particularly if they are not vaccinated. The vaccination we use at our practice contains the most up to date strains recommended for equine influenza and we strongly advise all clients to check the vaccination status of their horse(s) and if their vaccinations have lapsed to give us a call and book in for a vaccination. Although the risk is low, it is still possible for some vaccinated horses to contract influenza and show much milder symptoms. However, we still advise vaccination as it reduces the risk of transmission and reduces the clinical signs.

Diagnosis of influenza:

Our vets will examine your horse and take a nasopharyngeal swab and blood sample. The samples are posted to the Animal Health Trust laboratory and a result is usually available within 72 hours. Your horse may require anti-inflammatories to keep him/her comfortable. Certain horses may develop opportunistic infections with other bacteria (usually commensal bacteria that are usually harmless but when the immune system is challenged with another infection such as influenza, these bacteria take advantage and cause infection too) and so may require antibiotics. However, influenza is a virus so antibiotics will not be prescribed unless a secondary opportunistic infection is suspected. As influenza is highly contagious, strict biosecurity protocols must be initiated following a positive diagnosis. This includes isolation and barrier nursing of the infected horse(s), movement restrictions (to prevent spread to neighbouring properties) and regular temperature monitoring of in-contact horses. Please ask our vet at the time of the visit if you have any questions regarding your horse's treatment. 

Please contact us on 0151 794 6199 if you think that your horse may be showing signs of influenza or if you would like to book an appointment.