Equine flu: Two Devon donkey sanctuary sites closed due to disease outbreak

Ban on horse racing continues to stop the spread of the highly-infectious disease

Chiara Giordano
Monday 11 February 2019 17:16
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Horses in the snow at Sowerby, West Yorkshire

A pair of donkey sanctuaries have closed after an outbreak of equine flu.

Horse racing events have been cancelled across the country after the highly infectious disease was discovered at Donald McCain’s stable in Cheshire on Thursday.

Four new cases were confirmed at trainer Simon Crisford’s stable in Newmarket, Suffolk, on Sunday.

And on Monday The Donkey Sanctuary announced it had temporarily closed its centres in Sidmouth and Ivybridge, both in Devon, as a precaution.

The charity said in a statement: “Due to the recent outbreak of equine influenza in the UK, we have taken the precautionary decision to temporarily close our sites to members of the public until further notice.

“Our resident donkeys are not affected by this outbreak, but we’re keeping a very close eye on them.”

The British Horseracing Authority imposed a six-day shutdown on horseracing after the original three cases were reported.

Four new cases of equine flu have been identified among horses at Simon Crisford's Newmarket yard

It had hoped to resume racing on Wednesday after announcing 700 tests had been returned negative, with the same number expected to be given the all clear out of more than 2,000 samples received by the Animal Health Trust.

However, the authority said on Sunday night it could not yet say when racing would return.

It advised that only urgent visits should be made to stables where cases of equine flu have been recorded.

A total of 174 yards have had testing since a fixture in Newcastle on 5 February was identified as a potential risk fixture.

Licensed trainers, veterinary surgeries, farriers and racing schools are being advised to continue increased vigilance in biosecurity.

In 2001, an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease resulted in a two-month suspension of racing for two months in Britain, leading to the cancellation of the Cheltenham Festival, which is held every March.

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