U.S. Department of Agriculture: Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service


Date of this Version



Published in Veterinary Record (2010) 166, 565-566.


EQUINE influenza A virus (EIV) is a highly infectious respiratory pathogen of horses (Hannant and Mumford 1996, Palese and Shaw 2007). The illness is characterized by an abrupt onset of fever, depression, coughing and nasal discharge, and is often complicated by secondary bacterial infections that can lead to pneumonia and death. Two subtypes of EIV, H3N8 and H7N7, have been isolated. The H7N7 subtype was first isolated from a horse in Czechoslovakia in 1956 (Prague/56), and the H3N8 subtype was first isolated from a horse in Miami in 1963 (Sovinova and others 1958, Waddell and others 1963). The last confirmed outbreak of H7N7 occurred in 1979, and this subtype is now considered to be either extinct or circulating at low levels in a few geographical areas (Ismail and others 1990, Webster 1993, Singh 1994, Madic and others 1996, van Maanen and Cullinane 2002). The H3N8 subtype is a common cause of disease in horses worldwide, particularly in areas where vaccination is not routinely performed (Paillot and others 2006).