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Equine influenza positives places UK racing industry in turmoil

There is enormous trouble brewing in the UK racing industry that could have far-reaching implications throughout Europe.

Thoroughbred racing was cancelled indefinitely today after a racing stable returned not one, but three confirmed equine influenza positives from horses that were vaccinated.

The horses in question all raced at Ayr and Ludlow on Wednesday afternoon, putting dozens of other horses and stables in England and Ireland at an enormous risk of infection.

The British Horseracing Authority has been quick to act, but it may be too late to stop a crippling outbreak.

In a statement released just minutes ago, the BHA expressed its very real concerns.

“The fact that the cases have been identified in vaccinated horses presents a cause for significant concern over welfare and the potential spread of the disease and the action to cancel racing has been viewed as necessary in order to restrict, as far as possible, the risk of further spread of the disease,” the statement read.

Equine influenza crippled the Australian racing industry in 2007. After an outbreak in New South Wales, the state’s Department of Primary Industries later recorded that more than 47,000 horses were infected across 5943 properties, putting industry workers, owners and trainers on the brink of collapse.

The NSW horse-racing industry resumed racing 11 months after it had initially been cancelled, which was well ahead of some estimations.

The threat of a similar event happening across the UK will have authorities in an absolute panic.

Using Australia’s preventative measures as a guide, BHA will act quickly to quarantine the infected and avoid the spread which could very easily make its way to Europe.

“The BHA has worked quickly to identify which yards could have potentially been exposed today and identify the further actions required. The BHA is presently communicating with yards potentially exposed to ensure appropriate quarantine and biosecurity measures are put in place and horse movements restricted to avoid possible further spread of the disease.”

“The full extent of potential exposure is unknown and we are working quickly to understand as much as we can to assist our decision making. The BHA is working closely with the Animal Health Trust and will issue a further update tomorrow. We recommend that any trainer who has concerns about the health status of any of their horses should contact their veterinarian.”

Should the disease make its way to Europe, the results could be catastrophic. Racing industries could be looking at years without competition and the flow-on effects for stallions, studs, sales and everyone involved with the industry will be crippling.

Make no mistake, this is a big story. We’ll keep you abreast as more news comes to hand.

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