“Diseases like flu and herpesvirus are always going to be problems for horse owners, and they are not going away,” said Tom Chambers, PhD, of the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center. “The secret to effective vaccines for flu is effective surveillance,” which allows researchers and vaccine manufactures to stay abreast of which strains are causing illness.

Chambers heads one of the three world-wide OIE (Office International des Epizooties) reference laboratories for equine influenza. (OIE is the international advisory body that establishes guidelines and standards for animal health testing, monitoring, and trade. It also collects and disseminates information on occurrence and treatment of animal diseases.) The others are headed by Dr. Jenny Mumford of the Animal Health Trust in England and Dr. Werner Eichhorn in Germany. A meeting on influenza was held in conjunction with the convention.

Veterinarians are being asked to help track influenza to determine if there are new strains and to aid surveillance, said Rob Holland, DVM, PhD, who works for Intervet. Heska was the first manufacturer of a modified live intranasal flu vaccine, which is marketed by Intervet. Holland, who did his PhD work at the Gluck Equine Research Center, said vaccines are only as good as disease surveillance.

“The various influenza vaccine manufacturers are helping pay for the surveillance testing, and in return, they can use the viruses from the reference laboratories to update existing vaccines,” said Chambers.

Holland said the most common i