A new national campaign backed by leading equine organisations aims to educate horse owners on infectious disease, vaccination and herd immunity.

MSD Animal Health’s equine division has launched its Keeping Britain’s Horses Healthy (KBHH) campaign, a collaborative opportunity to improve protection and prevent endemic infectious diseases in horses in the UK.

It focuses on the vet as pivotal in delivery of preventive health care and builds on the opportunity that exists for broader and deeper discussions with owners covering biosecurity and herd immunity.

Despite vaccination being one of the simplest and most effective ways owners can protect their horses against disease, it is estimated fewer than 50 per cent of Britain’s estimated one million horses are vaccinated against influenza, while the figures for herpes and strangles are even lower.

Peter Young, MSD Animal Health equine business manager said: “Britain has always been seen as a nation of horse lovers and we take pride in our standards of horse welfare, yet this is at odds with such low vaccination compliance.

“To date, no industry figures are available that clearly establish British equine vaccination levels, so the success of
any education initiatives have, to date, been difficult to measure.

“Establishing data on vaccination coverage at a national and local level, educating owners about the importance of herd vaccination levels and yards about the role of biosecurity is what the Keeping Britain Horse’s Healthy campaign aims to do.”

Throughout the campaign, educational material will be made available via veterinary surgeries and direct to owners.

A national PR, advertising and social media campaign is planned to create awareness, supported by a dedicated website www.healthyhorses.co.uk.

The website, aimed at directing owners back to their veterinary practices, will include a vet finder, exclusively for equine practices, and health care information.

It will also feature a national competition to find Britain’s greatest horse offering owners the chance to enter through the KBHH website.

MSD will work with participating practices to establish current vaccination rates and identify ‘at risk’ horses and yards.

The team will then partner with the practice to discuss, review and help create its vaccination policy and help them communicate this to staff and clients.

The campaign aims to create the opportunity for the profession to work with yard owners to establish policies, not just for vaccination, but also regarding biosecurity, helping practices to build back the value into vaccination as a means of building a good reputation for their businesses.

For full details of the programme and how practices can be involved, visit www.healthyhorses.co.uk

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