Prevention of disease
Horse Flu is endemic in the UK, which means that most horses will come into regular contact with the virus during their lifetime. The control of horse flu in the UK is based on limiting the signs of infection in horses that have been exposed to the virus, rather than trying to prevent exposure itself. This is primarily achieved through regular vaccination which is given either once or twice a year.
There are a number of vaccines available in the UK, which differ in their formulation and also the strains of virus used, click here for more information about products available. Vaccination is compulsory for racing and some competitions.
All viruses increase their numbers by making copies of themselves whilst inside the animal they have infected, a process called replication. An important feature of influenza viruses is that during replication it regularly ‘makes mistakes’ so over time the virus will change. This poses a problem for vaccines because they need to be regularly updated to ensure they stay effective against the virus as it changes. We are already familiar with this situation in people where the flu vaccine strains are reviewed annually. A similar process is carried out for equine influenza, for more information click here.