FEI Veterinary Epidemiology Working Group held the fifth of its weekly meetings

The FEI Veterinary Epidemiology Working Group has been formed to monitor the evolution of the EHV-1 outbreak and provide specialist advice on its management and preventive measures for the future.

The Group held the fifth of its weekly meetings. The Group reviewed the current situation with the virus in mainland Europe, discussed principles for isolation and testing of abnormal cases, and future research projects that will result from this outbreak.

Current situation

There have been no further cases reported in France linked to the Spanish events, and no linked cases in horses returning to Ireland to date. There is follow-up on a number of horses in isolation in Sweden and test results will be further analysed at the OIE Reference Laboratory at the Irish Equine Centre.

Return to competition

The Group was advised that the return to competition, which commenced on 12 April 2021, has progressed well and that the FEI’s IT department has been supporting Veterinary Delegates with use of the FEI HorseApp. There has been good compliance with the paperwork requirements by athletes/grooms. The FEI is following up on event biosecurity compliance by Organisers and Veterinary Delegates.

Future research projects

There was lengthy and detailed discussion on scientific projects that will result from this outbreak, and the Group considered the option of commissioning a group to work on data collection from National Federations. It was agreed to approach RESPE, the French Equine Pathology Epidemiological Surveillance Network, to request assistance on this. The project, which will be funded by the FEI, will initially focus on collecting and analysing data for horses that participated at Valencia.

Abnormal cases

The Group discussed at length the principles for isolation and testing of abnormal cases, after being advised that the Veterinary Department had received a result where a horse tested negative for EHV-1 by PCR analysis of a nasopharyngeal swab, but positive to the virus by PCR analysis of a blood sample. The Group recommended the horse should be re-tested and both blood and nasopharyngeal swab samples should be taken.

Cancellation of events

The Group was advised that some events due to take place in the forthcoming weeks have been cancelled as the Organisers have been not been able to meet the mandatory biosecurity requirements for EHV-1 and are also hampered by the Covid-19 restrictions. The event cancellations have caused concern amongst the athletes who need to get their horses out to competitions.

The FEI Veterinary Department will work closely with Organisers to assist them in maintaining compliance with normal biosecurity regulations beyond 31 May when enhanced biosecurity measures are due to end.

The next meeting is scheduled for 22 April 2021.