Three hunts have cancelled their meets this week as a precautionary measure after the outbreak of equine herpes virus was announced at a North Devon racing yard last week.
Victor Dartnall’s stables was voluntarily quarantined on Thursday after some horses tested positive for the disease. At the time, professor Tim Morris, director of Equine Science and Welfare for the British Horseracing Authority, said that they were working with the trainer and his vet “to ensure that the correct, robust security measures have been put in place”.
The virus – known as EHV-1 – is a serious disease in horses involving inflammation of small blood vessels in the spinal cord and/or brain. It can be transmitted through the air from respiratory infection or by direct or close contact between horses. Although the disease can be treated, in some cases it can be fatal.
Diana Scott , joint master for the Devon & Somerset Staghounds, confirmed that their decision to cancel this week’s meets was purely a “precautionary” measure.
“We have had no direct contact with the yard and so this is purely precautionary,” she said. “We should be operating again hopefully on Thursday or Saturday this week but are reviewing it on a day-to-day basis.”
Other hunts to cancel are neighbours – the Exmoor Foxhounds and the Dulverton West Foxhounds.
Penny Crane, joint honorary secretary for the Exmoor Hunt, said: “It’s in everyone’s interest that we act responsibly and therefore we have cancelled our meet this week.”
Sheila Tapp of the Dulverton West Foxhounds confirmed that the hunt still met on Monday but they did not take the horses. “Our cancelled meet was a precautionary measure,” she said.