October 10, 2007

by Dr Ron Glanville,
Chief Veterinary Officer
Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries

Response plan is national: The eradication strategy for equine influenza is a national one, based on a pre-existing, planned response for this disease - and a strategy that has the full support of the Australian Veterinary Association.

The strategy for the eradication of equine influenza is based on a combination of:
rigorous movement restrictions
strategic vaccination, in particular the buffer zone around the south-east
promoting good biosecurity practices.

Once the vaccination zone has been established, permits and movement restrictions will be reviewed according to the status and distribution of the disease, as well as what is needed to ensure eradication and minimise the impact on horse owners.

Links to AUSVETPLAN response plan for equine influenza are on the DPI&F website.

LATERAL SPREAD
The spread of EI in the RED ZONE is mainly occurring through lateral spread (i.e. horse contact over fences, windborne over short distances and people handling horses).

There has been significant spread to "fill" in the cluster areas. The numbers of infected premises are high in absolute terms, but more important to monitor is the actual geographic area affected.

The standstill has been very successful in limiting spread outside of South East Queensland. This is a critical time, and the protection of the Green Zone by vaccinating the buffer is our highest priority.

Everybody must ensure that the disease does not spread to new areas, especially in the GREEN ZONE.

PEOPLE SPREAD EI
Equine Influenza is a highly virulent disease - it spreads faster and easier than any other disease that Australia has had to deal with.

Personal biosecurity and decontamination are critical. We must maintain the integrity of the GREEN ZONE and people carrying the disease on their clothing, footwear, body, even in their nostrils, is a real threat.

Please read the information on the DPI&F website, and observe all biosecurity and decontamination procedures.

The simple message is if you've been off your property, don't handle your horses until you have showered, blown you nose and changed into clean clothes.

HORSE REGISTRATION
It is now a requirement under the Stock Act (1915) to register the location of one or more horses.

This brings the registration of horses in line with other livestock including cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, buffalo, deer, camelids (camels, llama, alpaca), 100 or more poultry or any avian species.

This applies to commercial enterprises and businesses as well as those owning horses or other livestock for recreational or sporting purposes.

Horse ownership data is critical to both the veterinary and communications aspects of the fight against equine influenza. Please register the location of your horse here.

People without internet access can register by calling 13 25 23 or their local DPI&F office.

All horse owners who register with an email address will receive the Equine Influenza E-newsletter update, published three times per week.