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Equine surveillance

Equine disease surveillance is fundamental to safeguard the equine industry and helps ensure optimal horse health and welfare.

Surveillance takes many forms; the Animal Health Trust (AHT), Newmarket, United Kingdom, closely collaborates with numerous stakeholders to report national and international disease outbreaks on a daily basis through the International Collating Centre (ICC).

Quarterly, national laboratory data and disease outbreak information are collated into a report by the AHT on behalf of Defra and BEVA.

There are also disease specific surveillance schemes, offering discounted laboratory sampling and disease outbreak advice. The AHT epidemiology service is supported by a team of research specialists in the disciplines of virology, bacteriology and immunology.

For further information, see the AHT website or follow the links:

International Collating Centre (ICC)

The concept of the International Collating Centre (ICC) to disseminate equine infectious disease information was initiated in 1986 and established at the AHT in 1987. 

The ICC currently has countries registered to report to it under the umbrella of the International Thoroughbred Breeders’ Federation, with the majority of submissions received from Europe and North America. 

AHT surveillance staff regularly monitor other equine surveillance resources, which include sites registered for emailed alerts e.g. the French-based Réseau d’Epidémio-Surveillance en Pathologie Equine (RESPE) system, ProMED mail, Defra’s preliminary outbreak and qualitative risk assessments, the OIE’s WAHIS system and the American Equine Disease Communication Center (EDCC). 

Interim and quarterly reports are collated at the ICC’s website or please contact maire.obrien@aht.org.uk to be added to the ICC email circulation list.

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Equiflunet

The AHT’s aim is to improve awareness of equine influenza amongst veterinary surgeons and horse owners. The AHT is an OIE reference laboratory for equine flu and provides support to other laboratories around the world. 

AHT also collaborates with an international network of laboratories and experts to help select virus strains suitable for use in commercial equine influenza vaccines. Owners and vets can follow AHT on Twitter to keep up to date with equine influenza outbreaks in the UK and abroad.

Visit the Equiflunet website.

Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB)

AHT can test suspected cases of equine influenza free of charge, funded by the Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB). Veterinary practices can enter their details to register for this scheme.

Tell-Tail

In the event of a confirmed equine influenza case, notification will be reported by the text alert service, Tell-Tail, for UK equine practitioners, sponsored by Merial Animal Health.

This free of charge service alerts practitioners to outbreaks of equine influenza, equine herpes abortion and equine herpes neurological disease in the UK via text message.

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Equine Grass Sickness Surveillance Scheme

Established in 2008, the nationwide Equine Grass Sickness Surveillance Scheme collates details of clinical cases of Equine Grass Sickness (EGS) occurring within Great Britain since 2000. 

EGS is a debilitating and often fatal disease affecting grazing horses, ponies and donkeys.

EGS occurs predominantly, but not exclusively, in northern European countries and Great Britain has the highest frequency of diagnosis of EGS worldwide. 

The Equine Grass Sickness Surveillance Scheme is co-ordinated at the AHT in collaboration with the Equine Grass Sickness Fund and the universities of Edinburgh, Liverpool and Surrey.

Horse owners and vets are able to find information and updates and participate in the Equine Grass Sickness Surveillance Scheme by completing an online questionnaire on the website. All information provided remains completely confidential and will help improve our understanding of the distribution and frequency of EGS within Great Britain.

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