Equine flu: No further positive samples from 720 tests gives racing boost

Sat 9 Feb 2019

British Horseracing Authority officials have announced no new positive cases of equine influenza – including those from Rebecca Menzies’ yard – have been detected among about 720 so far processed.

Under the header ‘latest information’, the BHA’s statement read: “The AHT has informed the BHA that it has received approximately 2,100 nasal swabs and tested and reported on 720. So far, other than the six at the yard of Donald McCain already identified, there have been no further positive samples returned.

Grandstands in Britain have been empty since racing was brought to halt by equine flu
Grandstands in Britain have been empty since racing was brought to halt by equine flu

“This includes the swabs taken from horses at the yard of Rebecca Menzies. One horse – which tested negative – had previously been identified as suspicious and high risk after testing at a different laboratory.

“All these horses will remain under close surveillance, analysis of tests from the yard is ongoing – and testing of the suspicious horses will be repeated.”

The BHA’s Director of Equine Health and Welfare, David Sykes, said: “We are very grateful to all those trainers whose horses may have come into contact with those from the infected yard for working so rapidly with us and the Animal Health Trust to test their horses.

“There are many more tests to analyse and the nature of the incubation period means that a negative test now does not mean that horse has never had this flu virus. So these yards continue to remain locked down and their horses kept under observation.

“Though hundreds of tests have been completed already, there are many hundreds more to be analysed over the weekend before we will have a fuller picture. The nature of disease control means that if a positive did emerge elsewhere, that could lead to more yards being locked down.

“I would advise against anyone drawing any conclusions or making any predictions based on this set of results. Our focus remains on containing the virus through the strict adherence to biosecurity measures we are seeing across the industry.”

In total, 5,000 swabs have been dispatched around the country to facilitate further testing and the BHA’s team of Equine Welfare Integrity Officers are assisting in the delivery and collection of samples.

174 licensed yards that had runners of fixtures at Wolverhampton, Newcastle, Ayr and Ludlow last week remain on hold while testing continues, with movement of people and horses restricted and biosecurity measures in place.

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