The La Baule Organising Committee Veterinary Advisors and the FEI have been constantly monitoring horses at the French event following a confirmed case of Equine Influenza in a horse that was competing in Le Touquet (FRA) last weekend.
Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) swab testing, a “super-sensitive” forensic type test for viral infections. PCR looks for parts of the Influenza virus and is not an indicator that the virus is active, inactive, capable of producing disease, or that a horse is a risk to other horses. Equine Influenza (EI) is commonly found throughout the world on this type of test in healthy horses.
Precautionary testing on some horses at La Baule has resulted in PCR positives for two horses. None of the horses in La Baule, including the two PCR positive horses, are showing any signs of fever or any symptoms of disease.
In order to minimise an already low risk, the La Baule Organising Committee, in agreement with the FEI, will remove the two PCR positive horses from the showgrounds, as well as four horses that have been handled by the same grooms. In addition, all other horses from the same stable block will be moved to a separate isolation facility on the showgrounds.
“There are no sick horses at La Baule, and neither of the horses that had a positive PCR test have shown any symptoms at all”, FEI Veterinary Director Graeme Cooke said. “These measures, that could be viewed as being excessive, have been put in place after consultation with all parties involved to ensure the health status of all the horses at La Baule.
“We have been in constant contact with the OIE global expert on Equine Influenza, who has fully approved the measures taken. All horses attending FEI events must comply with a strict vaccination policy of being vaccinated within the last six months. This comprehensively reduces any possible risk. Equine Influenza is not an exotic virus, it is endemic in most parts of the world.”
Together with the La Baule Organising Committee and Veterinary Advisors, the FEI is continuing to monitor the situation. The FEI Veterinary Department has also issued explanatory guidelines to the competitors and their support teams (attached).
The La Baule competition schedule remains unchanged, with the first class starting at 10.30 tomorrow.