Government issues warning as horse miscarriage disease reported in Dorset

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Horses
Equine viral arteritis can lead to mares aborting their foals

TWO cases of a horse disease that can lead to mares aborting their foals have been reported in Dorset.

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Defra refused to give the location of the two instances of equine viral arteritis (EVA), which are at a single premises, but the UK’s chief veterinary officer Christine Middlemiss issued a warning for owners to watch out for their animals.

The horses have been restricted from breeding to limit the risk of the disease spreading, said Defra, and further investigations are ongoing.

The cases of EVA were in non-thoroughbred stallions and it was stressed that there is no risk to public health and no indication racing events will be affected by the outbreak.

Mrs Middlemiss said: “We have taken swift action to limit the risk of the disease spreading by restricting the movement of the animals and their semen.

“A full investigation is underway to determine the source and possible spread of the infection. Owners of mares and stallions are urged to have their animals tested before they are used for breeding.

“These findings remind us that we must all be vigilant for signs of disease and follow strict biosecurity measures.”

EVA can be spread through mating, artificial insemination, contact with aborted foetuses, and on the breath of infected animals.

Signs of EVA include failed pregnancies in mares, bloody tissue around the eye known as ‘pink eye’, swelling of testicles or udder and also around eyes and lower legs, fever and runny nose, depression, lethargy and stiff movement.

Owners were advised to help prevent the disease spreading by asking their vet for advice on vaccinating stallions, as well as ensuring good biosecurity and testing animals before breeding.

Anyone suspecting EVA should get in touch with the Animal and Plant Health Agency by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301.