After an outbreak of equine herpes virus 1 (EHV-1) at the International Horse Show in Valencia at the end of February, the situation appears to have calmed down. The requirement for vaccination is now being discussed.
“It seems we have survived this bad story,” says Peter Hoffmann, president of the Mannheim Equestrian Club. He looks relaxed, but he also knows: “We have to be careful.” Since Wednesday, the traditional horse show has been held again at the Mannheim Maymarket. However, it differs slightly from the usual, with the concepts of protection and under the circumstances – due to corona, but also due to horse herpes.
Only horses with a negative PCR test that are less than 120 hours old come to the facility. Before leaving for Mannheim, the animals had to have their temperature taken and documented for several days. “Here too, the fever is measured two to three times a day. The vet randomly checks that everyone does,” explains Peter Hoffman. “But I have a feeling that everyone knows what it’s all about and what the tragic consequences of the herpes outbreak in Valencia are.”
Herpes outbreaks with fatal consequences
The images and reports from Valencia, Spain at the end of February were frightening: the horses had drowned and could only be straightened with the help of slings and cranes around their stomachs. The German Equestrian Federation (FN) summed up on request “Tragically, a total of 18 horses died as a result of the outbreak of the herpes virus in Valencia, including eight German horses. One foal died immediately after birth. This is a very sad outcome.” SWR Sport.
The International Equestrian Federation (FEI) issued a worldwide ban on equine racing after a herpes outbreak. This was lifted on April 12, but tournaments can only be held under certain conditions and only with the concept of herpes protection, as is now the case in Mannheim. FN had already lifted the freeze on the national championships on March 29, subject to conditions. Until April 12, horses in tournaments were not allowed to stay in the stable or stay overnight.
Memarket Championship: Fewer horses in a stable tent
In Mannheim, the horses spend the night as usual in the large stables tents. However, not all chests are occupied so that not too many animals are too close to each other. In addition, this year’s dressage, vaulting and jumping competitions will not take place in parallel, but one after the other. As a result, there are fewer horses in the facility at the same time. The show jumpers who arrive on Saturday will also be housed in stable tents different from dressage horses before.
Even if herpes appears to be under control, it is still a huge problem in the equine world. “Now there is a debate about compulsory vaccination,” explains Peter Hoffman. However, this is not easy, because the vaccine does not bring complete safety. In addition, you should vaccinate horses every six, if not every three months: “You can’t do that with a horse that does a sport.” On the other hand, the umbrella organization Deutscher Gallup released mandatory vaccinations at the beginning of March.
Dorothy Schneider calls for compulsory vaccination
The horses of Olympic champion Michael Jung of Horb am Neckar have already been vaccinated. “So you have very great protection. You can get sick, but without a bad track,” Michael Jong said in an interview with SWR Sport at the beginning of March.
All of the team’s Olympic champion Dorothy Schneider’s horses from Framersheim have already been vaccinated. “This is necessary,” she explained at the end of March and demanded: “I think we should have a mandatory vaccine. Of course, such a vaccination also has side effects, but in principle we can contain the virus and protect our horses to a large extent.” The parachute organization was Deutscher Gallup had already issued mandatory vaccinations at the beginning of March.
Fear of the spread of herpes, especially among breeders
The director of the tournament in Mannheim, Peter Hoffmann, knows that “herpes is a serious problem, especially for breeders, because it causes viral abortions and this is of course exciting.” Nations Cup rider Sven Schlusselburg of Elsfeld had to try that, too. He inadvertently brought the herpes virus with him. Six of his nine “hooded mares” misbehaved, as Schlesburg described them in technical terms. Foals died before or shortly after birth.
The outbreak of the herpes virus in Valencia, Spain and its tragic consequences will remain in people’s minds for a long time. However, Peter Hoffman remains positive: “Basically, I think if we paid a little more attention to sports horses, we would be done with the problem.”