Equid alphaherpesvirus (EHV-1) outbreak in Europe
1 March 2021

Iain Graham
Interim Chief Executive, British Equestrian Federation


You will be aware that there has been an outbreak of EHV-1 (neurological form) at the CES Valencia Spring Tour in Spain.

The FEI have been working with the National Federations who have had athletes competing in Valencia on what they have described as probably the most serious EHV-1 outbreak in Europe for decades.

A large-scale veterinary operation is now underway in Valencia, being supported by the Spanish, French and German Federations to monitor and treat the affected horses. The FEI have blocked all horses who were at the venue from making entries at this current time and are liaising with athletes at venue and with those who had already departed to trace the horses no longer on site. There are now confirmed related outbreaks in France, Belgium and Germany. I have attached the most recent FEI update for your further information.

At the current time, 150 horses remain at the venue, where unfortunately four horses have now died and 84 on site are currently showing symptoms. 11 further horses are being treated at clinics offsite. In the last couple of hours, the French Equitation Federation and the French Hippic Society have suspended all national and international shows and the Sentower venue in Belgium has also cancelled all competition for the next two weeks. None of the UK based horses have yet travelled back, but we are monitoring the situation closely and we are in touch with the British athletes affected to provide advice and support.

We will be looking to issue guidance to all our Member Bodies with the assistance of the Veterinary Advisory Group and BEVA, to address the concerns we are receiving from our sports’ participants.

I will provide updates as and when I have them, but should you have any queries in the meantime, please do give me a call.

Iain Graham
British Equestrian.


Fédération Équestre Internationale

NF News – latest update on EHV-1 (neurological form) in Valencia

We are currently experiencing what is probably the most serious EHV-1 outbreak in Europe for decades and, while the Spanish Veterinary Authorities are in charge onsite in Valencia, the FEI Veterinary Department is driving coordination of both the onsite and wider measures in direct cooperation with the Spanish National Federation. The situation is difficult but is under control.

As many of you will have seen on social media and other online media platforms, there are some very distressing images and footage of extremely sick horses in Valencia. Tragically four horses have now died over the weekend, 84 on-venue horses are showing clinical signs and are being treated, and a further 11 horses are being treated in external clinics (nine in Valencia and two in Barcelona).

The treatment of horses on venue has been vastly improved with additional veterinary support and medical supplies, with a total of 21 veterinarians now onsite.

Over the weekend, the FEI ordered extra stabling so that healthy/recovered horses can be better separated from the sick horses on venue to prevent further transmission. A total of 44 temporary stables, which are being transported from the South of France, are due to arrive onsite today and 22 boxes will also be supplied to the Valencia Equine Hospital in order to free up emergency treatment permanent stables.

Additionally, the French National Federation and the FEI have coordinated a supply of inflatable support mats to assist recumbent horses to stand. Rescue nets and emergency slings are being sourced from Switzerland. The French and German National Federations are also supplying extra veterinarians.

A member of the FEI Veterinary Department is onsite in Valencia and establishing improved lines of communication between the authorities, the Valencia Organisers and athletes.

As this strain of EHV-1 is particularly aggressive and there are now confirmed related outbreaks in France, Belgium and Germany, we remain concerned that several sick and in-contact horses left the venue before it was closed for departures and that they may spread the disease.

Although the FEI has blocked all these horses in the FEI Database until the required testing protocols have been fulfilled, the FEI has again directly contacted National Federations with horses that participated in Valencia requesting confirmation that they have contacted all their athletes that were in Valencia, that their national veterinary authorities have been informed about the outbreak and the returning horses, and that the necessary isolation of returning horses and in-contact horses has been put in place and compliance is being controlled.

The FEI is also collating further information about related outbreaks and the measures put in place at local level to handle an outbreak.

The Veterinary Department, supported by leading epidemiologists, is undertaking a constant risk assessment in order to take and advise on correct preventive measures.

While the priority remains the current outbreak and minimising the risk of further transmission, the FEI will be using data gathered from this outbreak to evaluate the effectiveness of the EHV-1 vaccine, seeing which horses in the total group of 752 that participated in Valencia have been vaccinated, which had symptoms or were asymptomatic, and which horses have died.

The FEI will continue to work closely with the affected National Federations and update the wider community as soon as new information becomes available.

At this critical time, we are grateful for the way our community continues to come together to deal with this outbreak. This is a true example of solidarity among our National Federations in Europe working together with the FEI. And we owe a special vote of gratitude to the Spanish, French and German Federations for all their incredible support in this time of need.

https://inside.fei.org/fei/your-role/veterinarians/biosecurity-movements/biosecurity


FEI cancels European mainland events due to EHV-1 (neurological form)

The FEI has cancelled international events in 10 countries on the European mainland with immediate effect and until 28 March 2021 due to the rapid evolution of a very aggressive strain of the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), which originated in Valencia (ESP) and has already resulted in related outbreaks in at least three other countries in Europe.

This decision applies to all FEI disciplines, but in order to prevent huge numbers of horses simultaneously departing the Jumping Tours on the Iberian Peninsula, in Italy and Belgium that have been ongoing for a number of weeks, these specific Tours will be allowed to continue as individual “bubbles” on the condition that absolutely no new horses are allowed to enter the venues and no positive cases of EHV-1 are confirmed.

The Jumping Tour venues in Vejer de la Frontera (ESP), Vilamoura (POR), San Giovanni in Marignano (ITA) and Gorla Minore (ITA) will have stringent biosecurity protocols in place and additional FEI Veterinary Delegates onsite. Horses will only be permitted to leave these venues when they are in possession of an official health certificate from the local Veterinary Authorities.

Any horses leaving these venues without this documentation will be blocked on the FEI Database. It is also illegal to transport a horse without an official health certificate. Oliva Nova (ESP) had already advised the FEI this afternoon that it has decided to cancel the rest of its scheduled competitions in the Mediterranean Equestrian Tour III. Opglabbeek (BEL) has also informed the FEI that it has cancelled its events in March. A number of countries, including France, have already cancelled all their events to minimise transmission of the virus.

The decision, which covers events in France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Germany and Slovakia, has been made in accordance with FEI General Regulations Article 112.3, which state: The Secretary General shall have the authority to remove any Competition and/or Event from the Calendar if justified circumstances relating to a Competition or the Event are established.

“This was not an easy decision to block events in mainland Europe, particularly after the major disruption to the FEI Calendar caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said, “but this EHV-1 outbreak is probably the most serious we have had in Europe for many decades and our decision is based on clearly identified epidemiological risk factors.

“This strain of EHV-1 is particularly aggressive and has already caused equine fatalities and a very large number of severe clinical cases. We need to keep our horses safe. “We are also aware that a large number of horses left the venue in Valencia without an official health certificate, meaning they had an unknown health status. Some horses were already sick, and the risk of transmission from these horses is a major concern.

“Cancelling these competitions in mainland Europe, with the exception of the ongoing Jumping Tours in the Iberian Peninsula and Italy, limits the number of horses travelling internationally and therefore reduces the likelihood of this very serious virus being transmitted on an increasingly wider scale. We also strongly recommend that the affected member Federations should also cancel their national events.

“We are very conscious of the fact that this is a very stressful and distressing time, and that this is potentially hugely disruptive for those aiming for their Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MERs) or confirmation results for Tokyo, but we are looking at ways to alleviate that in order to assist athlete/horse combinations in getting their MERs or confirmation results once the events in mainland Europe are allowed to resume.” The FEI is aware that some athletes have already arrived on competition venues or are en route, and will contact all impacted athletes entered in Events between now and 28 March 2021.

https://inside.fei.org/fei/your-role/veterinarians/biosecurity-movements/biosecurity

© FEI – 1 March 2021


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