January 4, 2008

Equine flu is largely a spent force in New South Wales.

The latest situation update from the state's Department of Primary Industries said: "There is very little active infection anywhere in NSW.

"Over the Christmas and New Year break there have been no new infections of EI identified. EI remains contained in the current confinement lines."

The number of infected properties stand at 684, with 263 considered "dangerous contact" and 139 "suspect".

However, new cases are down to a trickle.

The department gave the following breakdown of the latest knowm cases of flu:

The department says 6090 properties are considered officially clear of the infection. Vaccine has been used on 7818 properties, covering 39,342 horses.

"With the reducing cases of EI in the purple zone, plans are under way to start to progress the status towards freedom from EI," the spokesman said.

"There is national agreement on the broad process, and the final details are being worked out. It is likely the current purple zone will be divided into a number of smaller areas or 'divisions', which will be progressed independently.

"When an area has been free of active EI infection for a time, and targeted surveillance testing shows that there is no active infection, the purple zoning will be changed, possibly to amber. After a further period of freedom, and more surveillance testing, the area will be improved to green - effectively free from EI," he said.

"Throughout this process, it will be important to be able to trace horse movements in case EI is detected. For this reason, additional movement requirements will be in place at each stage."

Meanwhile, operations at the State Disease Control Centre and its satellite centres have returned to full scale after the Christmas-New Year break.