Equine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory disease to which all horses are susceptible to.
Despite the increased use of vaccines the nature of the disease means that it has the potential to compromise the international movement of equines.
For a number of years the FEI rules have stated that equines must be kept up to date with their annual influenza boosters. However recent research shows that vaccine protection can start to decline after a couple of months. This means that towards the end of the vaccine year your horse may become more susceptible to infection again. These cases may not show signs of the infection and can prove to be particularly dangerous as they can spread the virus without the owners knowing.
Due to the increased risk of spread of equine influenza associated with the annual vaccination intervals, the FEI requires every horse competing in an FEI competition to be vaccinated against the disease every 6 months.
To begin the vaccines the horse must have a primary course; 2 vaccines between 21 and 92 days apart. The optimum time to have the vaccine is 4-6 weeks between the 2 vaccines and it is important to try and stick between these guidelines. The first booster vaccination must be given no more than 6 months and 21 days later. The booster can be given at shorter intervals but must NOT exceed 6 months + 21 days.
The vaccine should be administered in accordance with the manufacturers instructions (eg. intramuscular, injection or intranasal). The FEI will accept intranasal vaccines for both primary and booster doses, however you cannot change the method of administration between the first and second vaccination of the primary course.
All types of vaccine are accepted as long as they registered for use in that country and univalent vaccines are preferred over combined vaccines.
All vaccinations must be administered by a veterinarian and the details of the vaccine, batch number, date and route of administration must be recorded in the equine’s passport.
As previously stated, the booster vaccines can be given at any point up to 6 months and it must not go over 6 months and 21 days. The horse will not be allowed to compete in any FEI competition if they have been vaccinated within the 7 days previous.
If the horse is already being vaccinated annually and it then changes to bi-annually, you do not need to worry about starting a primary course again.
From the 1st January 2006:
As of the above date the FEI have introduced fines for those competitors who fail to comply with the FEI 6 monthly boosters. These are all stated below in Swiss Francs.
- Less than one week after the 6 months + 21 day window: CHF 200 (approx. £153)
- Less than two weeks after the 6 months + 21 day window: CHF 300 (approx. £229)
- Less than four weeks after the 6 months + 21 day window: CHF 400 (approx. £306)
- More than four weeks after the 6 months + 21 day window: CHF 500 (approx. £382) and CANCELLATION of the horse’s participation of the event.
There will also be fines relating to the following infringements:
- If there is no evidence of a vaccination in the passport, the maximum penalty will be CHF 500. The horse will not be allowed to compete and must be put in to isolation and sent away form the event as soon as possible.
- Any infringements of vaccination dates should be noted in in the passport in capital letters; others at future events will depend on the information written in the passport.
- No information on the primary vaccination course may not lead to a penalty. As long as there is letter in the passport written by the veterinarian to state that the vaccination history has been checked and is correct.
- The certified statement “The vaccination history of this Horse is correct to date. Last vaccination on 00/00/00 date” may be used to summarise a long vaccination history when a new or duplicate Passport is issued.