Horse owners are being warned to take steps against an outbreak of equine herpes.

The disease led the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) to cancel the show jumping and dressage world cup finals in Gothenburg, Sweden, earlier this month to prevent it spreading further.

Experts say a few simple hygiene measures can significantly reduce the risks.

Disinfectants can reduce the spread of diseases dramatically if used carefully and consistently.

“A focus on hygiene is one of the simplest and most economical ways to reduce the spread of disease and promote healthy conditions in stables and vehicles," says Helen Ainsworth, rural hygiene specialist with manufacturers BASF.

To make the most of disinfectant and reduce the spread of diseases, she suggests:

  • Thoroughly disinfect all accommodation. This is best achieved by pressure washing the sides and floors of stables with a quality detergent before spraying with a Defra-approved disinfectant.
  • Bacteria, viruses, and other micro-organisms are often present on clothing and boots. Those working with horses should be sure to wear clean overalls and dip boots in disinfectant to reduce the risk of introducing harmful diseases. Before entering stables, it is also good practice to wash hands with a bactericidal soap.
  • Any equipment that is being used in conjunction with horses should be disinfected before being used. Solutions should be changed frequently.

“We have the tools to reduce the spread of viruses to an absolute minimum. Owners can protect themselves, their friends, family and horses by simply keeping their stables and equipment clean and using a disinfectant properly,” she added.