Iceland's national horse festival, the Landsmót, will continue as scheduled despite an outbreak of a yet-undiagnosed infectious respiratory disease, according to a statement from the Landsmót's executive committee and a veterinary official.

The country's preliminary breeding shows, currently in progress, will also continue as planned. However, additional breeding shows may be organized later for horses that are too ill to compete in the regular program.

"Horse owners are encouraged to keep the well-being of their horses in mind and refrain from attending breeding shows and qualifications with sick horses," the statement read.

The decision was made in Skagafjörŏur during a May 7 meeting between the executive committee and Sigríŏur Björnsdóttir, DVM, PhD, Veterinary Officer for Horse Diseases at Icelandic Food and Veterinary Authority (MAST).

Characterized primarily by a dry cough, the respiratory disease causes weakness and sometimes nasal drainage, shortness of breath, or, in more severe cases, fever. Symptoms can continue up to six weeks, according to a fact sheet provided by MAST.

"It is not possible to stop the epidemic," Björnsdóttir said. "Because it has such mild symptoms, it was already widespread when reported to official veterinarians." The disease is particularly common among riding horses because they are stabled with other horses, she added.

Although the source of the infection has not yet been identified, the most likely agent is a virus that is sometimes accompanied by a bacterial infection, according to Björnsd&oa