‘Virulent’ outbreak of equine herpes forces European equestrian events to be axed

A virulent outbreak of equine herpes in eastern Spain has forced European equestrian events to be cancelled across the continent.

The International Federation for Equestrian Sports said the move will see events axed in 10 European countries until 28 March.

The ban affects upcoming events in Spain, Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Austria, Poland, Netherlands, Germany and Slovakia.

The federation’s general secretary, Sabrina Ibáñez, said an unspecified number of horses have already died from the outbreak.

“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.

“But this EHV-1 outbreak is probably the most serious we have had in Europe for many decades.”

The outbreak appears to have originated in Valencia, Spain, and has been linked to subsequent outbreaks in three other European countries.

The federation is allowing horse jumping shows in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Belgium to go ahead as long as no new horses enter the events and no cases of the virus are detected.

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