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Equine Influenza A, RT-qPCR - Equigerminal

Equine Influenza A RTqPCR

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Pathogen test 

  • This RT-qPCR test detects the genome (RNA) of Equine Influenza Virus Type A.

  • Equine Influenza is a disease listed in the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code and countries are obligated to report the occurrence of the disease according to the OIE Code.



  • 1 nasopharyngeal swab ( see AAEP guidelines
  • 5 mL - blood - K3 EDTA tube

Turnaround time

  • 2 to 5 working days


What is Equine Influenza?

  • Equine Influenza (EI) is a highly contagious though rarely fatal respiratory disease of horses, donkeys and mules and other equidae. The disease has been recorded throughout history, and when horses were the main draft animals, outbreaks of EI crippled the economy. Nowadays outbreaks still have a severe impact on the horse industry.
  • EI is caused by two subtypes of influenza A viruses: H7N7 and H3N8, of the family Orthomyxoviridae. They are related to but distinct from the viruses that cause human and avian influenza.
  • Once introduced into an area with a susceptible population, the disease, with an incubation period of only one to three days, spreads quickly and is capable of causing explosive outbreaks. Crowding and transportation are factors that favour the spread of EI.

Clinical signs

  • In fully susceptible animals, clinical signs include fever and a harsh dry cough followed by a nasal discharge. Depression, loss of appetite, muscle pain and weakness are frequently observed.
  • The clinical signs generally abate within a few days, but complications due to secondary infections are common.
  • While most animals recover in two weeks, the cough may continue longer and it may take as much as six months for some horses to regain their full ability. If animals are not rested adequately, the clinical course is prolonged.


  • Highly contagious, EI is spread by contact with infected animals, which in coughing excrete the virus.
  • Animals can begin to excrete the virus as they develop a fever before showing clinical signs.
  • It can also be spread by mechanical transmission of the virus on clothing, equipment, brushes etc carried by people working with horses.


  • Vaccination is practiced in most countries. However, due to the variability of the strains of virus in circulation, and the difficulty in matching the vaccine strain to the strains of virus in circulation.
  • Vaccination does not always prevent infection although it can reduce the severity of the disease and speed recovery times.
  • Act immediately if you see flulike signs in your horse, especially if you have multiple animals housed together. Being proactive can help halt disease spread and save money and time.
  • Call your veterinarian and have him or her take nasal swab samples first to determine what pathogen you are dealing with (several diseases can cause similar signs in infected horses) and treat accordingly.
  • Immediately place the horse in question in a quarantine area and thoroughly clean and disinfect any areas or equipment he has been in contact with.
  • Because horses with influenza do not show signs right away, quarantine other horses that have been housed close to the sick one, as they are most likely already infected.
  • Flu’s incubation period, or time that a horse is infectious before showing signs of illness, is about three days.
  • Management techniques can also help reduce disease spread, including designating one person to handle/treat the sick horse, treating the horse at the end of the day/shift (when the handler won’t be coming into contact with other horses), and setting up foot baths with disinfectant solution for handlers to dip their shoes in as they enter and exit the premises.
  • Disinfecting equipment such as buckets and hoses as well as tack can also prevent disease spread. Regardless of your disinfection protocol, be sure to dedicate a separate water bucket and hose for the sick horse.