Horses not vaccinated for equine flu may not be insured against the virus

A race meeting at Newmarket in April 2017 Picture: ADAM DAVY/PA WIRE

A race meeting at Newmarket in April 2017 Picture: ADAM DAVY/PA WIRE - Credit: PA

Horse owners are being urged to consider getting their animals vaccinated against equine flu even if they do not race.

Equine insurance expert Richard Freeman, of Lycetts Picture: SUBMITTED

Equine insurance expert Richard Freeman, of Lycetts Picture: SUBMITTED - Credit: SUBMITTED

Richard Freeman, of equine insurance broker Lycetts, is warning that their horses may not be insured against the virus if they are not vaccinated and become infected.

This follows The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) announcement that racing will not resume until Wednesday, February 13, at the earliest, including fixtures scheduled by the Point-to-Point Authority.

The BHA called off all four horse racing meeting fixtures due to take place on Thursday, February 7, after three vaccinated horses tested positive for equine flu, which is highly contagious.

This is the latest in a series of outbreaks of the disease in 2019 – with others reported in Essex, Cheshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Yorkshire and Suffolk.

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All British racehorses are vaccinated against equine flu, but it is not compulsory for the wider horse population to be vaccinated against the disease.

Equine insurance expert Mr Freeman, who is based at Lycetts Newmarket office, urged owners of horses that do not race to consider vaccinating their animals, if they haven’t already done so.

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He also said racehorse trainers should follow BHA advice to give horses who haven’t had a vaccination in the past six months a booster and follow precautionary measures.

“Horse owners should contact their broker to check what the terms of their policy are and see what protection it offers,” he said.

“Equine flu is generally not specifically excluded from equine insurance cover, but it is commonly a condition of a policy that the insured horse must be vaccinated against equine flu.

“It is always the case that the insured must at all times provide proper care and attention to the insured horse and do all things possible to minimise any loss.”

This strain of equine flu has affected vaccinated horses, although symptoms are usually more mild than in unvaccinated horses and include a raised temperature, a cough and nasal discharge.

Mr Freeman said: “This is a serious situation for all horse owners, who wait with bated breath to see what the full impact of this disease will be.”

To prevent the spread of horse flu the League Against Cruel Sports is urging over 200 hunts to stop immediately.

A spokesman said many horses involved in racing also take part in hunting and this disease spreads easily in horses and “can even jump across to the hunting hounds”.

Chris Luffingham, director of campaigns at the League Against Cruel Sports, said: “There is a serious risk of horse flu spreading among both horses and hounds if they continue meeting up

“It would be grossly irresponsible of the hunts to ignore the precedent being set by the horse racing authorities.”

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