October 25, 2007

The number of infected properties in New South Wales has reached 5050, but the number of properties where the equine flu virus is deemed to be "active" has been declining over the last fortnight.

A graph contained in a Department of Primary Industries situation report shows a steady decline since October 10 in the number of properties where the virus is active.

An infected property is considered to be inactive 21 days after the infection is declared.

The combined yellow and blue on the accompanying graph shows the total number of infected properties, at just over 5000.

The yellow portion of the graph shows the number of properties where the virus is still deemed to be active.

Meanwhile, more than 280 horses on properties near Woodenbong have been vaccinated for equine influenza as NSW builds a buffer along the Queensland border to stop the spread of infection into NSW.

"Veterinary teams have been vaccinating horses near Woodenbong over the last week or so and they plan to start west of Tenterfield today," said NSW deputy chief veterinary officer Steve Dunn.

"The Tweed is being left at the moment as we assess the protection provided by the buffer north of the border in that area."

Mr Dunn said Local Vaccination Centres had been established at Woodenbong and Tenterfield.

"Local knowledge is helping us choose where best to target the vaccination for maximum effect," he said.

"We are taking into account high traffic crossings to Queensland, including Wallangarra and Woodenbong, natural buffers such as national parks and the level of disease pressure immediately across the border in Queensland."

Mr Dunn said the Queensland border buffer was playing a very important role protecting the north coast from infection.

"The north coast, the mid-north coast and much of the northern tablelands is an EI amber zone," he said.

"This means there is no confirmed disease there but horse movements require a permit from the Rural Lands Protection Board. We would like to keep these areas disease-free and return them to a green zone as soon as possible."

Veterinarian have also been working the Mudgee buffer zone, with almost 300 horses inoculated, including miniature ponies, donkeys and clydesdales. Follow-up shots will be given next month.

The Department of Primary Industries said progress towards re-zoning is being made at a very encouraging rate.

"Changes in zoning of some areas from amber to green and from red to amber would mean a freeing-up of restrictions in some of the amber and red zones and would be a big step on the way back to normal operations and eradication of EI.

"As part of the progress towards re-zoning, surveillance testing is being undertaken to confirm which isolated red zones are free of the disease. The testing required is quite extensive and may take up to two weeks to finalise. This is a crucial step: before any change in zoning can be made, we must be completely confident that the disease has been eradicated in those areas."

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