The rigors of travel and the exposure of hundreds of horses to each other and a new environment have been of great concern to the organizers of the equestrian events at the 2008 Olympics. The FEI announced today some updates on disease prevention and quarantine in Hong Kong, site of the equestrian events.
A 7-day pre-export quarantine (PEQ) at approved centers around the world and a 10-day post-arrival isolation (PAI) have been regulated. During the PAI, training can continue at specified times and the competition can commence.
At this time, it seems that the venue stables will be opened two weeks prior to the competition.
For an optimal flight recovery and acclimatization of the horses, it is strongly recommended that horses arrive as early as possible. This has the additional advantage that any horses suffering from travel sickness or respiratory problems after the flight can receive treatment and fully recover before the competition.
When horses arrive late, there is little time for treatment. Also, administration of certain medications can cause problems when the FEI Veterinary Regulations commence (normally three days before the first horse inspection for each discipline).
It is strongly recommended that all horses be given a booster vaccination against equine influenza between one and two months before entering the PEQ facilities, to ensure an optimal immune level and minimise the risk of influenza issues causing an importation problem. Horses suffering from influenza in the PEQ period will compromise not only their own travel to Hong Kong, but possibly also for all horses which are in that PEQ-facility at the same time.
Another disease for which vaccination should be made is Japanese encephalitis. The vaccine against this disease is being manufactured in Tokyo.
In previous FEI events, the percentage of horses suffering from travel sickness was rather low. Some figures: 2000 Sydney Olympics: no clinical travel sickness, 4 horses with fever, all recovered within 48 hrs post arrival. FEI World Cup Jumping Final in Kuala Lumpur: no cases of travel sickness.
To learn more about the equestrian events, visit a new web site developed specifically for those events, and published in English.