January 18, 2008

The two Australian states affected by the equine flu outbreak have not had a fresh case since before Christmas.

It has been 43 days since New South Wales had a fresh case and Queensland confirms it has had no new cases since before Christmas.

The news means growing confidence that the outbreak, which began in August, could be wrapped up by mid-March.

NSW now has only 47 properties still officially listed as infected - that is, properties where the disease has yet to be formally listed as resolved. The number of suspect properties stand at 29.

The state has formally cleared 6691 properties.

In Queensland, there are 235 infected properties yet to be resolved, but with no fresh cases since before Christmas, the disease should have burned itself out on all the properties by now.

NSW has explained the "proof of immunity" requirements for movements within the once highly infected purple zone, which will be required from February 4.

Horse owners will need either a valid vaccination certificate showing at least two doses of the ProteqFlu vaccine, a certificate of immunity signed by a vet (this will be replacing the Horse Health Certificate), or a horse health certificate with part 1 signed by a vet and showing that the horse is vaccinated or recovered.

"A letter saying that the property is 'resolved' following an EI infection does NOT constitute proof of immunity," a spokesman for the Department of Primary Industries said.

"[That] is about the status of the property not the horses on it.

"If you believe your horse is recovered from EI, and you need to prove it, you will need to have a laboratory test showing the presence of antibodies to prove that the horse is recovered.

The test for antibodies is called an 'ELISA test' and is carried out on a blood sample.

Owners in the purple zone will also require a Travelling Horse statement.

The measures are only temporary, and are designed to help the state move the purple zone to green status.