January 24, 2008

Forty-nine days have elapsed in New South Wales since the last known fresh case of equine influenza, as authorities press ahead with testing to prove freeddrom from the disease.

Laboratories with the Department of Primary Industries processed 2570 samples yesterday, with all results reinforcing the belief that equine influenza is a spent force in the state.

Laboratory testing of samples taken from hundreds of horses each day is central to the continued success of the equine flu campaign.

"Results from the testing provide indications of EI infection, immunity and vaccination status," a DPI spokesman said. "The testing helps to progress zone changes through surveillance and validation and facilitates horse movements within and between zones."

Taking the purple zone to green will eventually involve testing of horses on 3000 properties and collection and processing of more than 25,000 samples.

Meanwhile, the equine influenza hardship grants package administered by Racing NSW, which provided emergency grants of up to $A1500 to horse industry employees such as strappers, stablehands and racecourse staff, is to be wound up.

Final applications must be lodged today. No applications will be accepted after this date.

After today, enquiries may only be taken on applications lodged on or before that date.

All transactions and correspondence relating to the fund will be finalised on January 31, after which date the administration of the fund will be disbanded.

The Australian Government assistance packages administered by Centrelink continue, with the cut-off date for applications being February 8. These packages are the Equine Workers Hardship Wage Supplement Payment and the Equine Influenza Business Assistance Grant.