WILTSHIRE vets are urging horse and pony owners to ensure their animals are vaccinated against equine flu following an outbreak that has led to race meetings being abandoned.

Anna Quiggin, clinical director at Hale Vets said: “Horses that haven’t been vaccinated have been pretty sick and these horses continue to spread infection. We would urge owners to arrange for a booster vaccination if their horse hasn’t been vaccinated within the last six months.

"“We don’t want to panic people, but owners should protect their horses by vaccinating against flu and keeping these vaccines up to date.

“People need to be sensible and not take any chances moving horses that might be showing signs of flu. If everyone vaccinates and takes sensible biosecurity measures, this will all die down quickly and equestrian sport can continue.”

Symptoms of the disease include a nasal discharge, a cough and a high temperature. The virus is transmitted in droplets from an infected horse's mouth or nose and can spread on people and equipment.

Race meetings have been cancelled because of the concern at how quickly the airborne infection can spread, making it hard to contain.