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The FEI Veterinary Epidemiology Working Group: Prolonged biosecurity measures

Wednesday, 02 June 2021

The FEI Veterinary Epidemiology Working Group held the 11th of its weekly meetings on the 28th of May 2021. 

The report from the meeting reads: 

"Current situation

As always, the Group was provided with information on the current situation in mainland Europe and was advised that there had been no reported cases of EHV-1 linked to FEI events since the last meeting. Within the last month, small numbers of EHV-1 neurological disease have been reported in Italy, the UK and USA, but the ongoing outbreak in the UK has no links to the Spanish outbreak. Cases of EHV-1 respiratory disease that were recently reported in Italy were not linked to FEI events.

It is currently unclear whether the EHV-1 cases at Ornago (ITA) are related to the Spanish outbreak.

The Group was updated about US horses that had arrived in Liège (BEL) prior to travelling on to the CDI in Compiegne (FRA). Several days after arrival, two horses tested positive for EHV-1, but did not show any clinical signs of infection. The horses, which had no links to either the Spanish outbreak or Ornago, did not go to Compiegne, were isolated and were due to be re-tested.

A separate shipment of US horses heading to the FEI Endurance World Championships at Pisa (ITA) withdrew from the event following investigation of a pyrexic horse prior to their arrival on-venue at San Rossore. Analysis of blood samples suggested a viral infection and withdrawal of the entire team was based on all the horses being considered in-contacts. The pyrexic horse later tested negative for EHV-1.

The Group agreed that it would be beneficial to obtain data from events held since 12 April 2021 to determine the prevalence of EHV in sport horses. Although it was noted that the reasons for withdrawals would be unknown, withdrawals could be compared with the same period last year. Comparisons could also be made between events where pre-arrival EHV-1 testing was mandatory and events where there were no testing requirements. 

Data collection 

The data collection project from National Federations is ongoing. A research application to the FEI Veterinary Committee for an EHV-1 project is currently being prepared. The FEI will provide data to support the application.

Laboratory update

The Group provided an update on the ongoing laboratory work, particularly analysis of samples. Work is ongoing for preparation of a proficiency panel for a laboratory in Portugal that would like to carry out EHV-1 testing on FEI horses. A system for proficiency testing is already in place and testing is currently supplied free of charge by the Irish Equine Centre.

Funding would be required to offer proficiency testing to laboratories. These commercial testing programmes will run under the auspices of the FEI.

Future EHV research projects will be discussed at the forthcoming International Horse Sports Confederation (IHSC) and OIE Technical Committee meeting and the FEI Veterinary Director will report back to the Group.

Prolonged biosecurity measures

The Group was informed that the biosecurity measures that will remain in place beyond 30 May were published on 27 May and have been well received. EHV-1 testing will only be required prior to flights and on entry to pre-export quarantine (PEQ). The Group discussed the use of the same laboratory for sample analysis of the horses that would be in PEQ in Aachen in order to ensure harmonised results.

The Group’s next meeting is scheduled for 10 June 2021."

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