What is equine influenza?

Equine influenza (EI) is an acute, highly contagious, viral disease which can cause rapidly spreading outbreaks of respiratory disease in horses and other equine species. EI is exotic to Australia and would have a major impact on the Australian horse industry if it were to become established here.

Humans do not get infected with equine influenza. However, humans can physically carry the virus on their skin, hair, clothing and shoes, and can therefore transfer the virus to other horses. It is vital that you shower and wash carefully, wash your hair and put on a completely fresh set of clothes (including shoes) after contact with any horses (including your own horses) that might be infected with EI. The virus can also be physically carried on equipment and vehicles.

Clinical signs

The main clinical signs of EI are usually a sudden increase in temperature (38.5°C or higher - see Taking a horse's temperature); a deep, dry, hacking cough; and a watery nasal discharge, which may later become mucopurulent. Other signs can include depression, loss of appetite, laboured breathing, and muscle pain and stiffness.