Equine viral arteritis: how to spot and report the disease

How to spot equine viral arteritis, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent its spread.

Equine viral arteritis affects horses, donkeys and other equids.

It doesn’t affect humans.

The last confirmed case in Great Britain was in 2012.

Equine viral arteritis is a notifiable disease in:

  • stallions (male horses)
  • mares (female horses) that have mated or been inseminated within 14 days

If you suspect the disease you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

How to spot equine viral arteritis

Signs of equine viral arteritis can include:

  • conjunctivitis (bloody tissue around the eye known as ‘pink eye’)
  • swelling of testicles or udder, also around eyes and lower legs
  • abortions (failed pregnancies in mares)
  • fever and runny nose
  • depression
  • lethargy and stiff movement

Some infected horses will show no clinical signs.

How equine viral arteritis is spread

Equine viral arteritis can be spread through:

  • mating
  • artificial insemination
  • contact with aborted foetuses
  • on the breath of infected animals

Stallions can carry the disease for extended periods without showing clinical signs and spread the disease through sexual contact or if their semen is used to artificially inseminate a mare.

Preventing and controlling equine viral arteritis

You can help prevent the disease by:

  • vaccinating horses and ponies against the disease - talk to your vet for advice
  • practising good biosecurity on your premises, especially if you’re involved in breeding

If you suspect equine viral arteritis, APHA vets will investigate.

If equine viral arteritis is confirmed the outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases.

Stallions suspected of having equine viral arteritis may be banned from use in breeding, along with semen from that stallion.

Further information on prevention and control

Controls to prevent disease

What happens when a notifiable disease is suspected or confirmed

Legislation relating to equine viral arteritis

Equine viral arteritis is covered by the Equine Viral Arteritis Order 1995.

Published 26 August 2014
Last updated 18 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Contact details for reporting a notifiable disease updated.
  2. First published.