By Erin Ryder
About 200 veterinarians were dispatched Aug. 15 to examine 5,000 racehorses in Japan for equine influenza after 20 animals at a training center were found to be positive for the virus, the news service Reuters reported in Guardian Limited.
Officials have stopped horses from moving between Japan Racing Association facilities, the Guardian Limited reported. The JRA also announced that racing for the upcoming weekend has been canceled.
Influenza is not usually life threatening, but it can make a horse uncomfortable and increase vulnerability to other diseases. Treatment for equine influenza includes keeping the horse comfortable and reducing fever.
Horses generally should be rested one week for every degree of fever at the peak of the illness. Influenza can spread by direct contact, by people in contact with infected horses, and by respiratory droplets over short distances.
Horses exposed to transient populations, those stressed by shipping or heavy training schedules, youngsters, and seniors are most at risk of contracting influenza.
According to the published report, all horses under the Japan Racing Association are vaccinated against equine flu. Races were canceled in 1971 after 1,800 horses were infected with influenza.