The Rio2016 organizing committee is doing everything possible to ensure that all horses arrive, compete and leave Rio disease-free. To that end, extensive documentation procedures have been put in place for exporting horses.
To verify that only those horses qualified to compete in the Olympics are brought into the country, all horses must possess a valid Federation Equestre Internationale (FEI) passport or FEI recognition card. In addition, all horses must be microchipped. No import permit will be issued for a horse that has not been microchipped. Finally, horses must be accompanied by an Export Health Certificate.
Per the Equestrian Freight Manual (EFM), the official guidelines for shipping horses for the Equestrian Events of the 2016 Rio Olympic and Paralympic Games, within 30 days of the date of export, all horses must have the following tests completed:
a) Equine Infectious Anemia Negative Agar Gel Immunodiffusion assay (AGID test/Coggins) for Equine infectious Anemia.
b) Glanders (only for horses that will be certified in Germany) Complement Fixation Test (CFT) with a negative result at 1:5 dilution.
c) Dourine (only for horses that will be certified in Italy) Complement Fixation Test (CFT) with a negative result at 1:5 dilution.
d) Equine Piroplasmosis Babesia Caballi AND Theileria Equi Complement Fixation Test or Indirect Immunoflouresence or ELISA test for B Caballi and T Equi. A horse testing positive for Equine Piroplasmosis is still permitted to travel providing that the horse is clinically healthy.
e) West Nile Virus This test is not required if the horse has been (for the 2 months prior to export) in a country which is officially West Nile Free or if the horse is vaccinated according to a full schedule against WNV at least 30 days prior to shipment to Rio. If during the 2 months before export the horse has been in a country where West Nile Virus has been reported (currently USA, Spain, Austria) a WNV IgM cELISA must be undertaken with negative results.
All horses must remain under veterinary supervision for a minimum of 14 days prior to export to Brazil. During this period there should be no contact with horses of a lower health status
Furthermore, all horses must be vaccinated for Equine Influenza no less than 15 days and no longer than 90 days prior to shipment. Horses must be treated for internal and external parasites within 48 hours of departure - the active ingredient of the product and the date of treatment must be recorded on the export health certificate.
The FEI Veterinary Committee has agreed that the FEI examination on arrival will be performed at the hub of departure instead of on arrival at the venue. Once tested the animals must remain under veterinary supervision until export to Brazil. The horses will be under the supervision of an FEI veterinarian from the point of inspection and during flight.
As with the Beijing 2008 & London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, Peden Bloodstock, the Rio2016 appointed Official International Shipping Agent and Stable Management Provider, will be using Hippobase to consolidate all horse & shipping information e.g. horse passport copies, attendant passport copies, addresses of origin and return, vehicle details, etc.
A word about the Zika virus and horses: According to an article in The Horse by J. Scott Weese, DVM, DVSc, Dipl. ACVIM, “There’s currently no evidence that Zika virus can infect horses. Zika—which is a mosquito-borne virus related to West Nile virus and dengue fever— has only been found in nature in humans and nonhuman primates.”
In addition to the documentation regarding horses, there are protocols outlined for the shipping, storing and re-exporting of feed, hay, bedding and medical supplies. From the looks of the requirements, competing at the Olympics might actually be easier than getting there!
Photo credit: Global News
Photo credit: Peden Bloodstock