Vets are familiar with rhinopneumonia, but the strain currently plaguing Europe is very different from the previous ones. The international equestrian sport federation describes this epidemic as “the most serious in Europe for decades”. So far, ten horses have died from it after an international competition in Valencia, Spain, and several cases of what might be called “Horse Covid” have been reported in France.
“We know a lot more about the respiratory form which acts like a viral passage with a little cough, a little fever”, explains Doctor Emma Morand, veterinarian in Lunel-Vieil in the Hérault, department where two cases have been identified. “But the difference in the nerve form is that it is a rare form which puts the horse’s vital prognosis at risk.”
It is therefore this form that is developing and Christian Gorvier veterinarian in the same clinic admits it: this virus has not revealed all its secrets. “It is very difficult to be able to say if he has really mutated and how effective the vaccines we have today are or not at all.” Vaccination is still recommended but the only solution is the confinement of the horses and very strict instructions in the stables.
Amandine Argéliès, instructor of the equestrian center of the stables of the Serre in Saint-Mathurin, confides that she is very concerned: “It’s in the Hérault, so obviously we are going to take more precautions and watch out for our horses.”
“We don’t really know how to deal with it, we know that it is a disease that happens very quickly, which can be dramatic and fatal very quickly.”Amandine Argéliès, equestrian center instructor
Without a negative test, no horse can enter. Riders must leave their belongings in the stable. The goal is to prevent a human or an object from touching another horse. “For example the farrier who came to shoe our horses, he came from another stable just before, and they have a system to disinfect themselves with a sprayer, all the clothes, because from one stable to another, it can be transmitted very quickly “, explains Amandine Argéliès.
The situation is even more complicated for professional riders like Adrien Littré, who manages this equestrian center. “We only talk about that because it changes our lives. I can no longer compete, I can no longer do internships with my riders, I can no longer go and blow my horses outside. they postponed until April 11 but in my opinion, we will never jump until the summer I think. “ Beyond the concern for the health of the horses, the economic impact will also be very important if the epidemic escalates.