Protecting competition horses from the flu

November 5, 2013
Protecting competition horses from the flu

A deep hacking cough, a runny nose and fever—just like humans, horses can suffer badly when struck down by the flu. Although equine influenza is rarely fatal, it is highly contagious and can seriously disrupt training and competition schedules and result in huge revenue losses for the equine industry.

Dr Janet Daly, a virologist from The University of Nottingham's School of Veterinary Medicine and Science is lead author on a state-of-the-art review looking at how can help us bring horse flu under control and protect our horses effectively.

The review, entitled "What can mathematical models bring to the control of equine influenza?", has been published in the Equine Veterinary Journal. It confirms that vaccination reduces the occurrence and limits the extent of outbreaks, but also that vaccines could be administered more strategically and should contain currently circulating strains of virus.

Protection afforded by equine flu vaccines is not as straightforward as we might think and the has an ability to mutate making older vaccines less effective. None of the vaccines currently on sale in the UK have the most recently recommended strains, and only one in the US achieves this.

Dr Daly said: "This study will help further our understanding of how to better protect horses against the effects of equine influenza. Mathematical modellers have to make some assumptions in developing models, but models are informed by and tested against real data. As a virologist, I find the questions about the data they need to generate their models challenge me to think differently about the disease. "

The review collates the findings from numerous studies over the past 10 years in which mathematical models were used to project how are likely to progress in different circumstances and illustrates how this technique can be used to help inform decision-making on prevention and outbreak management.

Explore further: A new insight into horse flu

More information:

Related Stories

A new insight into horse flu

April 24, 2012

The management of influenza outbreaks in horses will directly benefit from research by the Faculty of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney.

Recommended for you

New gene map reveals cancer's Achilles heel

November 25, 2015

Scientists have mapped out the genes that keep our cells alive, creating a long-awaited foothold for understanding how our genome works and which genes are crucial in disease like cancer.

Study suggests fish can experience 'emotional fever'

November 25, 2015

(—A small team of researchers from the U.K. and Spain has found via lab study that at least one type of fish is capable of experiencing 'emotional fever,' which suggests it may qualify as a sentient being. In their ...

How cells in the developing ear 'practice' hearing

November 25, 2015

Before the fluid of the middle ear drains and sound waves penetrate for the first time, the inner ear cells of newborn rodents practice for their big debut. Researchers at Johns Hopkins report they have figured out the molecular ...

How cells 'climb' to build fruit fly tracheas

November 25, 2015

Fruit fly windpipes are much more like human blood vessels than the entryway to human lungs. To create that intricate network, fly embryonic cells must sprout "fingers" and crawl into place. Now researchers at The Johns Hopkins ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.