EHV 1 Outbreak in Europe 2021

**Important – Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) Outbreak**

Many of you may be aware of the recent EHV-1 outbreak that originated at a British Showjumping event in Valencia (Spain) and has subsequently resulted in related outbreaks in at least 3 other countries in Europe.

In response, British Showjumping are putting in place measures for all horses returning from France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Germany and Slovakia from 1st March 2021. See link:…/British…

The FEI have also cancelled shows in Europe ( with the exception of a strictly controlled few that are already well underway) until 28th March ’21.

What is EHV?

Equine Herpes Virus is a common equine virus that can cause respiratory or neurological signs in horses and abortion in pregnant mares. It is extremely contagious, spread via direct horse contact through respiratory secretions or via indirect contact with contaminated items/ personnel etc.

Neurological disease (EHM) has been associated with this recent outbreak. Neurological signs can vary from incoordination (ataxia) to collapse and recumbency where horses are unable to stand.

The incubation period of the virus is on average 4-7 days but can be as little as 24 hours or as much as 14+ days. The virus can last up to a month in the environment once it has been shed but it can be killed easily by virucidal disinfectants.

Should you vaccinate your horses against EHV?

There is a vaccine available for EHV1-4 that can help reduce nasal shedding of the virus if a vaccinated horse becomes infected with the virus. This therefore means that it reduces the amount of virus shed into the environment, reducing the risk of other horses becoming infected, as well as offering that individual some protection against respiratory infection and abortion in the brood mare. A primary course is given (2 vaccinations 4-6 weeks apart) followed by 6 monthly boosters.

However, the vaccination does not offer full protection for respiratory disease and abortion ( as is the case for most vaccines) and does NOT protect against the neurological form of disease. It is also advised to NOT VACCINATE any horse that is thought to have been in contact with EHV-1 or may come in to contact with it e.g. travelling to a show in Europe in the near future whilst the EHV 1 outbreak is still being managed, as there is a possibility that vaccination could exacerbate and increase the risk of neurological signs.

As long as there is no risk of recent exposure, we recommend the routine vaccination of :-Pregnant mares at 5, 7 and 9 months of pregnancy to reduce the risk of abortion.

We also recommend the routine vaccination of:-

-Horses kept in close proximity to pregnant mares

-Young stock

-Horses who travel a lot to compete or move to different properties regularly. Ideally their stable mates would also be vaccinated as a “herd”/yard cover.


Good biosecurity, such as quarantining new arrivals/ use of disinfectants/footbaths/ PPE and nominated grooms for quarantined horses etc remains key in trying to reduce the spread of EHV.

We also advise clients to go to the following link to the HBLB Code of Practice to find all detailed information regarding EHV

Please contact us if you are concerned or would like biosecurity advice.