The organisation of the Equestrian Olympic Games fell to LOCOG (London Committee for the Organisation of the Games) and biosecurity of 200-plus equine athletes, from over 40 countries, was listed as a top priority. To deal with this, LOCOG appointed Professor Josh Slater, who is professor of equine and clinical studies at the Royal Veterinary College, London, as Equine Biosecurity Adviser.

Professor Slater called us in to provide a hygiene protocol to be used across all the equine facilities. So, having learned from the experience gained at the Hong Kong Jockey Club stabling site used for the Olympics in 2008, we were in a fairly strong position to make recommendations for LOCOG.

Basic principles

All arrivals went through an ‘equine staging facility’ (ESF) where veterinary inspection of the horses was undertaken prior to transfer to the main site at Greenwich. Hygiene at the ESF was paramount, since here was the first area where symptoms of illness could be identified and the horse isolated before it could act as a transmission agent to others.

The most important part of any infection-control policy is the establishment of a cleaning and disinfection protocol which follows similar rules to those that are (supposed to be) followed in the human healthcare environment. This is all very well in the veterinary practice, where well- established routines are conducted by knowledgeable nursing practitioners – where, because of this, a good infection- control policy is in place and cross-infections are relatively uncommon.

However, the cleaning and hygiene protocol in the Olympic stables was implemented in the main by team support staff, so it was important to provide simple instructions on use and preparation, some based on pictograms to help overcome language issues.

The stables at Greenwich were constructed on a slightly elevated platform to avoid contact with the park environment, and to contain waste products. Water was at a premium and ground drainage of large quantities of rinse water from pre-washing by conventional detergents was regarded as unacceptable by the Park Authorities.

We had, therefore, to design the Cleaning and Disinfection protocol around a system of minimal water usage and a single application of a dual-purpose disinfectant/cleaner.

Disinfection procedures

Simple rules were rigorously enforced – careful scrubbing and disinfecting of footwear on entry and exit, mandatory hand washing before entry to horse examination areas or stables, and a readily available supply of DEFRA- approved high level disinfectant, disinfectant wipes and trigger sprays to facilitate wiping down of any areas.

Cleaning and disinfection took place on entry and exit of each equine patient from an examination area. Flat surfaces, mangers, door edges, walls and floors – all had to be cleaned in the same meticulous way, as did the vehicles used for transporting the equine athletes.

The routine implementation of strict veterinary precautions and the front line defence afforded by the use of the DEFRA-approved product together created a reliable barrier against cross-infection, hopefully making a positive contribution to the success of the London Equine Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.

Medichem International (Marketing) Ltd, is a veterinary biocides manufacturer established over 20 years ago. For further.

LOCOG Equine Biosecurity Adviser, Professor Josh Slater, and the BVNA's Bonny Miller, in the Olympic Stables in Greenwich


Jim Hayman

Chairman of Medichem International (Marketing) Ltd

To cite this and other BVNA content use either 

DOI: 10.1111/j.2045-0648.2012.00218.x or Veterinary Nursing Journal Vol 26 pp 326


VOL 27 • September 2012 • Veterinary Nursing Journal