Describing herself as a massive advocate of preventive healthcare, Emma explained that this, and the welfare of animals, was why she first trained to be a vet. “Seeing first-hand how animals can suffer from preventable diseases is truly distressing. Vaccines alone have saved millions of lives, however we need to do more to help educate owners in preventable conditions. That’s why I was so keen to help support this campaign,” she adds.
Karen Coumbe MRCVS of Bell Equine is featured in the first of three films, and explained that to prevent a flu epidemic in the UK, 70% of herd immunity is required. “Maximising herd immunity is important in preventing outbreaks of diseases like equine flu,” explained Karen. “However approximately just 40% of the UK herd is currently vaccinated¹.
“We now know that there were 33 confirmed outbreaks of equine flu in the UK in 2014, so the importance of vaccination cannot be over emphasised. Flu is linked to the movement and mixing of horses, so vaccination of horses on a yard where either they or their companions are traveling, or new horses are coming and going, is so important,” she added.
Dr Richard Newton, head of epidemiology and disease surveillance at the Animal Health Trust is also featured in the film series. He explained the importance of using vaccines that are updated according to the latest recommendations from the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) Expert Surveillance Panel (ESP) on equine influenza vaccine composition. “The latest recommendations are that vaccines for the international market should contain both clade 1 and a clade 2 viruses of the H3N8 Florida sublineage.
“The ESP is really important in the context of its work to ensure that the industry has available the most up to date vaccines to help prevent major outbreaks. At the moment there is only one vaccine commercially available in Europe that complies with the latest recommendations, ProteqFlu® by Merial Animal Health Ltd.
“However, equine veterinary practitioners are also critical for effective surveillance for equine flu. The Horserace Betting Levy Board (HBLB) funded sentinel practice initiative run at the AHT offers subsidised testing to help ensure that the OIE continues to receive the most up to date information from the field.
In addition, the Tell-Tail alert service from Merial notifies practices signed up to the scheme when there is an outbreak in their area, said Dr Newton. “The Tell-Tail alerts are excellent for raising awareness, encouraging sample submission and improving vaccine coverage in areas where flu is known to be active,” he adds.
For more information or to watch the films, visit www.horsefittogo.com or www.facebook.com/horsefittogo . Information about the Sentinel and Tell-Tail schemes can be found at www.equiflunet.org.uk
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