Equine Influenza may bring Indian horse racing to halt: Expert

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Bangalore, Nov 5 (UNI) The Equine Influenza, which has affected hundreds of horses in Mumbai and Kolkata, forcing authorities to postpone the racing season, may bring Indian Racing to a grinding halt if it spreads to the city, an expert today claimed.

Speaking to UNI, Bangalore Turf Club (BTC) Chief Veterinary Officer Syed Naveed Ahmed said the situation was grave in the two metropolises and it was only hoped it would not spread to other centres.

The Bangalore Winter Season begins on November seven and the Club authorities have banned movement of horses while imposing restrictions on professionals moving in from the affected areas.

Senior Steward and BTC Managing Committee Member Jayant Shah said the contagious disease had brought racing to a temporary halt in Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata and if it spread to Bangalore, a key racing centre like Mumbai, the Indian Racing would come to a grinding halt.

The long Mumbai Racing season, which should have began this month, had to be put off till at least January by the RWITC officials in view of the viral infection sweeping the Mahalaxmi Race Course. This had affected at least 600 horses.

The case was similar at Kolkata and Delhi where the new season could not be started as per schedule.

''At this moment, Bangalore has a disease free status. We have put a total ban on movement of horses from other centres. Professionals like jockeys, trainers and horse handlers will have to follow certain guidelines. This includes using locally available gear and a thorough sanitation process,'' he said.

The symptoms of the disease include high viral fever and cough.

It spreads when a healthy horse comes in contact with the nasal discharge of any affected horse.

It can be transmitted from a human who comes in contact with the nasal discharge of an affected animal and passes it on to a healthy horse. However it has not affected people so far.

The viral infection was first noticed in the Army polo horses in Delhi and it spread to Mumbai in the first week of October this year and later to Kolkata in November.

Similar conditions prevailed in the 90s when equines across North India were affected.

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