RACING yards in the region have been taking extra precautions against equine flu after the country's meetings were abandoned for six days following an outbreak.

Yards in Middleham and Malton have been trying to keep horses free from the disease, with vets in Middleham making sure horses were up to date with vaccinations.

The Northern Echo:

Trainer Richard Fahey during day one of Glorious Goodwood at Goodwood Racecourse, Chichester

It announce last night that racing nationally would not be resumed until at least Wednesday, February 13.

Ben Gaskell, a vet who serves many Middleham yards, said he was working hard to ensure horses were protected.

He said: “Equine flu is infectious and is usually carried through the air but can also be contracted through mucus.

“It can spread quickly from horse to horse in a yard so I have been making sure all the horses are up-to-date with the immunisations. Horses generally get a booster every year, but when there is an outbreak we give a six-month booster.

“If the outbreak is well contained it can clear up fairly quickly. the next few days will be spent making sure the flu is isolated.”

Mr Gaskell said none of the horses he had seen in Middleham had been affected by the flu.

Trainer Richard Fahey, based in Malton, said he was pleased with the precautions British Horseracing Association (BHA) was taking to prevent a widespread outbreak.

He said: “We were due to have three runners on Friday. There was an outbreak of equine flu in 2003 but I can’t remember a time when races have been cancelled before.

“But I’m glad it is being taken seriously. In Ireland and France there have been outbreaks in the last few months but no race cancellations, but perhaps there should have been to contain the disease.”

Mr Fahey said he had checked the 150 horses in his yard and all were healthy.

Horses that have contracted equine flu can develop a high fever, coughing, nasal discharge and sometimes swelling of the lymph nodes. The incubation period is usually days but recovery can take weeks or months.

The BHA said there was “significant concern over welfare and the potential spread of the disease” and it was attempting to prevent further cases.

It said: “quarantine and biosecurity measures are being put in place and horse movements restricted. We are working quickly to understand as much as we can to assist our decision.”