AHVLA has played a key role in the preparations for the equestrian events at the Olympic Games. The agency has been involved in the movement of horses in and out of the country, the import of animal feed and in ensuring that plans are in place should there be an outbreak of notifiable animal disease.

Gordon Hickman, Head of AHVLA's Contingency Planning team explains: "We've been working very closely with LOCOG (the London Organising Committee for the Olympic Games) to ensure that the equestrian element is well planned and that everyone understands the implications should a suspect case of equine notifiable disease occur just before or during the Olympics.

"We have been producing regular risk assessments for the Games' organisers and as part of our usual work at the border inspection posts (BIPs) we have a role in the health certification of horses that enter theUKfrom outside the European Community via ferry, Eurotunnel or the equine handling facilities at Stansted airport."

An equine staging facility has been set up inGreenwichwhere the horses will receive a veterinary check before they are moved to the main venue. Throughout the Olympics, staff from AHVLA's South East of England Field Services team will be on-call and ready to discuss any emerging issues with the accredited vets at the venue.

The International Trade Testing facility at AHVLA's Weybridge laboratory will also stand ready for a rise in the amount of testing to be done as the horses are prepared to leave the country when the Olympics come to a close.

Workgroup Leader, Charlie Dalley and his team, have been preparing for the last three years: "We will be providing test capability for notifiable diseases and also export testing. In total we are to expect about 300 horses, 225 for the Olympics plus 75 for the Paralympics events and our most demanding time will be when the horses leave theUK for their home country or another competition elsewhere. But we'll also be on standby just in case a notifiable disease is suspected and we are needed to test samples."

Equine notifiable diseases covered by AHVLA include equine infectious anaemia, African horse sickness,West Nile virus, equine viral arteritis, glanders, foot and mouth disease and vesicular stomatitis.

Following the announcement that animals will feature in the opening ceremony, veterinary experts from AHVLA's Veterinary and Science Policy Advice team and the Veterinary and Technical Services team have also been advising LOCOG and the London 2012 Ceremonies team on animal welfare, movement controls and disease control issues.

 

(Source: defra.gov.uk/ahvla)