IHRB Update: Equine Influenza

The IHRB today announced changes to the equine influenza vaccination requirements under its Rules following recommendations made by the European Horserace Scientific Liaison Committee (EHSLC) to facilitate a harmonised approach across the jurisdictions of France, Ireland, UK, Germany, Italy and the Nordic countries around vaccination protocols for equine influenza.

The EHSLC is the professional body responsible for recommendation of harmonised policies relating to veterinary matters, anti-doping and medication control to its member European racing jurisdictions.  The IHRB is a member of the EHSLC.

In making these recommendations, the EHSLC considered views from leading experts in equine influenza from Great Britain, Ireland and France; EHSLC members, and trainers’ representative bodies.  The EHSLC’s objective was to harmonise policy across Europe with a vaccination programme to provide the best protection for the racing herd while considering the practicalities of training racehorses. The programme is designed to maximise the immunological competence of vaccinated horses from an early age when natural immunity levels are limited. The recommendations agreed by the EHSLC cover 2020 and thereafter.

With that in mind, and to provide clarity to owners and trainers, the BHA has decided to maintain the existing requirements until further notice. We will advise you of the consultation process and timings in early 2020.

The approach recommended by the EHSLC as follows has been approved by the Directors of the IHRB and will apply in Ireland:

  1. From 1st January to 31st December 2020, the vaccination intervals according to the current provisions of Rule 91 will apply as now; i.e. to be eligible to run in Ireland, a horse must have received the following equine influenza vaccinations:
  • Initial vaccination (‘V1’)
  • 2nd vaccination (‘V2’) 21-92 days after initial equine influenza vaccination
  • 3rd vaccination (‘V3’) 150-215 days after second equine influenza vaccination
  • Booster equine influenza vaccination at annual intervals – ie. all horses racing will need to have received a booster equine influenza vaccination within the preceding year.

Rule 91 will be updated to abolish the €350 fine for vaccinations that are demonstrably incorrect with the only penalty in such situations being that the horse will be a non-runner. 

  1. From 1st January 2021, the following equine influenza vaccinations will be required:
  • Initial vaccination (‘V1’)
  • 2nd vaccination (‘V2’) 21-60 days after initial equine influenza vaccination
  • 3rd vaccination (‘V3’) 120-180 days after second equine influenza vaccination
  • Booster equine influenza vaccination at six-monthly intervals – all horses racing will need to have had a booster equine influenza vaccination within the preceding six months.

Whilst it won’t be a requirement under Rules until 2021, the IHRB recommends that trainers should move as soon as possible to the new programme in the interests of the individual horse, to boost the immune status of the Irish Thoroughbred population, and to facilitate the transition to the new intervals.

In addition, the IHRB recommends that all horses on the premises are vaccinated, that young horses are vaccinated as early as possible after six months of age and that a vaccine containing a Clade 1 representative is used.

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