New vaccine measures could be dangerous, says Ger Lyons

IRHB has introduced measures which will see horses vaccinated every two months

 Trainer Ger Lyons: “If you keep giving vaccine to horses you’re going to mess them up.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

Trainer Ger Lyons: “If you keep giving vaccine to horses you’re going to mess them up.” Photograph: James Crombie/Inpho

 

New mandatory Irish Horseracing Regulatory Board vaccine measures have been labelled potentially dangerous by one of the country’s top trainers Ger Lyons.

Last week, on the back of the equine flu outbreak in Britain, the IHRB’s chief veterinary officer Dr Lynn Hillyer announced horses must get a vaccine for equine influenza which contains the “clade one” virus within eight weeks of them racing.

On Monday a number of trainers privately expressed reservations about the practicality of horses effectively having to be vaccinated every two months, and Lyons publicly described the move as “ludicrous” and “potentially dangerous”.

He told The Irish Times: “They came out and said if a horse hadn’t been vaccinated within the previous six months, they should get a booster shot. I completely concur with that. That is sensible.

“Now they’re saying we want them vaccinated every two months before they race. That means, logically, they want us vaccinating our horses every two months. That is beyond comprehension and in my opinion potentially dangerous.”

Lyons, who is a flat trainer, explained that he vaccinates his string in Co Meath before Christmas during the off-season.

“It means they get a week to get over it because the vaccine makes them spike a temperature and they’re just off. You let them get over it and they start back to work a week later. But how can it be expected that we do that every two months.

“Excess of anything is bad. Even with something like a wormer you have to keep switching levels because the horses get immune to it and the wormer doesn’t work. If you keep giving vaccine to horses you’re going to mess them up.

“I think this is an over-reaction. I’d like to know what the scientific basis to it is because every vet I’ve spoken to says it’s wrong. As a professional horseman I think it’s wrong.”

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