National Stud
The gates of the National Stud remain closed following the discovery. Image © Alarnsen, licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0.

The National Stud breeding site in Newmarket has been closed following the discovery of a neurological herpes virus infection.

The virus was found at an isolation unit in a maiden filly that arrived from France on 20 January and had been fully vaccinated.

Five stallions are currently based at the 500-acre National Stud, which is situated on the outskirts of Newmarket and supports the thoroughbred breeding industry.

Every precaution taken

Roly Owers
Roly Owers.

Brian O’Rourke, managing director of the National Stud, told BBC Radio Cambridgeshire: “This is an isolation unit and we’ve taken every necessary precaution.

“That one isolation unit is shut down for 30 days automatically. The staff at the unit do not go to the main farm, which is a good mile and a half from the isolation unit.

“We are hopeful if we have no more setbacks, hopefully with consultation with a team of vets and the Animal Health Trust, we’ve got a second gate we might be able to open up the Stud in time for the start of the breeding season around 15 February.”

World Horse Welfare chief executive Roly Owers said: “There is also a less common neurological form of the disease that can vary from mild incoordination to total paralysis and can be fatal. The virus can spread rapidly, which is why isolation is so important.”

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