Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) outbreak in Europe
A serious outbreak of a very aggressive strain of the neurological form of Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1), which originated in Valencia, Spain, has resulted in outbreaks in at least three other European countries. As a result, the FEI has cancelled international events in 10 countries on the European mainland with immediate effect until 28 March 2021, these include; France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Germany and Slovakia. The decision was made in accordance with FEI General Regulations Article 112.3, which state: The Secretary General shall have the authority to remove any Competition and/or Event from the Calendar if justified circumstances relating to a Competition or the Event are established.
This ruling applies to all FEI disciplines however, to prevent a mass exodus of horses leaving the Iberian Peninsula jumping tours, some tours have been allowed to continue as ‘bubbles’ under strict biosecurity measures and, providing there are no new horses joining the competition and no positive cases of EHV-1 are confirmed.
“This was not an easy decision to block events in mainland Europe, particularly after the major disruption to the FEI Calendar caused by the Covid-19 pandemic”, FEI Secretary General Sabrina Ibáñez said, “but this EHV-1 outbreak is probably the most serious we have had in Europe for many decades and our decision is based on clearly identified epidemiological risk factors.
“We are very conscious of the fact that this is a very stressful and distressing time, and that this is potentially hugely disruptive for those athletes aiming for their Minimum Eligibility Requirements (MERs) or confirmation results for Tokyo, but we are looking at ways to alleviate that in order to assist athlete/horse combinations in getting their MERs or confirmation results once the events in mainland Europe are allowed to resume.
“This strain of EHV-1 is particularly aggressive and has already caused equine fatalities and a very large number of severe clinical cases. We need to keep our horses safe.”