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Horse Influenza

Equine influenza (Horse flu) is the disease caused by strains of Influenza A that are enzootic in horse species. Equine influenza occurs globally, and is caused by two main strains of virus: equine-1 (H7N7) and equine-2 (H3N8). The disease has a nearly 100% infection rate in an unvaccinated horse population with no prior exposure to the virus. While equine influenza is historically not known to affect humans, the impact of an outbreak would have been devastating. Since people heavily relied upon horses for communication (postal service), military (cavalry) and general transport, the social and economic impact of widespread equine disease would have been devastating. However, in modern times the ramifications of equine influenza are most clear in the modern racing industry.

Equine influenza is characterized by a very high rate of transmission among horses, and has a relatively short incubation time of 1–5 days. Horses with horse flu can run a fever, have a dry hacking cough, have a runny nose, and become depressed and reluctant to eat or drink for several days, but they usually recover in 2 to 3 weeks.