The USEF Board of Directors has approved an addition to the rule book regarding vaccination requirements at federation-licensed events. Beginning December 1, 2015, all horses entering the grounds of a USEF-licensed competition must possess documentation of both Equine Influenza Virus and Equine Herpes Virus (Rhinopneumonitis) vaccinations. Vaccinations must have occurred within six months prior to entering the facility.
The occurrence of several high profile Equine Herpes (EHV) outbreaks in recent years, mostly involving the neuropathic strain of the virus (EHM), have led some competitions to place vaccination requirements on their competitors that go beyond most accepted medical opinions. These rules have raised concerns that unnecessary requirements can potentially be counterproductive, putting horses at further risk.
The new vaccination rule intends to ensure that all USEF-licensed competitions comply with the vaccination guidelines for Equine Influenza and Equine Herpes (Rhinopneumonitis) published by the American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP). These guidelines are considered the gold standard by the horse industry, and are reviewed by infectious disease experts regularly. The AAEP currently recommends vaccinating competition horses at six-month intervals for both equine influenza (flu) and rhinopneumonitis (EHV-1 and EHV-4). As of 2015, there is not a vaccine that protects against EHM.
This rule is intended to promote proper vaccination protocols, and USEF does not anticipate that it will lead to an increased workload for competition management. The flu and EHV vaccination information can easily be added to the health documentation already required by most competitions: a horse’s health certificate and a negative coggins test.
The new rule in its entirety may be read here.