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 in these animals you must tell the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) immediately. 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
- 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:
- 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
Legislation relating to equine viral arteritis
Equine viral arteritis is covered by the Equine Viral Arteritis Order 1995.