The strain of equine flu which has halted UK horse racing is the same one which shut down racing in Australia for six months in 2007, it has been reported.
According to Sky News, it is a north American strain known as Florida Clade 1, and 10,000 horses were affected during the outbreak in Australia.
Two race meetings at Newcastle Racecourse have been cancelled due to the current outbreak in the UK. The venue was due to hold racing on Friday and Tuesday but both events were called off.
The British Horseracing Authority (BHA) made the decision to cancel all races until at least Wednesday, February 13, to minimise the risk of flu spreading.
Racing was initially called off earlier in the week after three horses in Cheshire were found to be unwell.
A statement from Newcastle Racecourse read: “Following this afternoon’s announcement from the BHA, racing at Newcastle tomorrow eve and Tuesday eve will not go ahead.
“Bookers will be contacted to arrange a refund/transfer. If you do not hear from us tomorrow, please call the Racecourse Office on 0191 236 2020.
“We apologise for the inconvenience, but equine health and welfare are of paramount importance at this time.”
The BHA made the decision to cancel all races after consulting more than 50 trainers and vets to make an assessment on the risk of the flu spreading.
The disease can take up to three days before symptoms are visible and a decision will be taken on Monday as to whether racing can resume on Wednesday.
In a statement, the BHA said: “This approach will allow samples to be collected and assessed by the Animal Health Trust in order that a fully informed decision can be made on Monday.
“This may then allow declarations to take place on Tuesday in time for racing on Wednesday, with 24-hour declarations for all fixtures on this day, should racing be able to resume. Declarations for Thursday would revert to the usual procedures.
“Trainers support a precautionary approach and we thank them for the collaborative manner in which they have worked with us to address this unfolding situation.
“This precautionary approach is intended to ensure we put the health of the horse population and control of the virus first, and avoid any unnecessary risk that might come from returning to racing too quickly.
“We appreciate the impact that this may have on the sport commercially, but disease control in order to mitigate the risk of further disruption to the sport – and safeguard the health and welfare of our horses – must be a priority.”