An outbreak of equine herpes has been confirmed in Chalfont St Giles.

The Chiltern Equine Clinic announced the news on its Facebook page last week (Tuesday January 10).

They wrote: “This is a very infectious virus which can cause respiratory disease, neurological disease and abortion in mares.

“If you have any questions regarding Equine Herpes Virus (EHV), please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

“If you are concerned about your horse, particularly if he or she has a high temperature, please give us a call straight away.

“Biosecurity measures are in place.

“Risk of infection can be minimised with good biosecurity measures, i.e avoiding close contact or sharing of water or feed buckets with other horses, particularly at competitions, and isolating new horses at livery yards. Known cases should be isolated.”

It is the second outbreak of the virus in recent months, according to Horse and Hound magazine.

They reported that four horses had to be put down in early November after contracting the disease.

It was said to have been contained at Rossdales Hertfordshire vetinary practice.

The most common signs to look out for are those of an upper respiratory tract infection.

They can vary from no clinical signs to a high temperature, lethargy, purulent nasal discharge and cough.

The clinic also warns the incubation period ranges from two to 10 days, and during these times the horse may not exhibit signs but is still contagious.

Treatment involves anti-inflammatories and the administration of intravenous or oral fluids.

There is a vaccine for strains EHV-1 and EHV-4 but it does not give complete protection and needs to be considered on a case by case basis.

Vet at the clinic, Carmel Molloy, said: “It’s really impossible to predict how common it is.

“It’s not the most common but there’s no data at the moment because it’s changing quickly and we’re behind.”

Outbreaks have happened in Oxfordshire, Herefordshire and in America, she said, and added: “We’re seeing more of it this winter.

“But this is the only case of EHV we’ve seen [at the clinic] this year.

“Therefore the data is not that reliable.”

She issued the following advice to horse owners: “Biosecurity protocols should be in place all year around and not just in outbreaks like this.

“If people do have any concerns contact us immediately.”

Horse owners are advised to monitor their animal’s temperature daily and wash hands with disinfectant.

Pregnant horses should be vaccinated at five, seven and nine months of pregnancy and kept separate from other horses.

Animals should be grouped together in groups of exposed and non exposed.