Horses entering Equestrian Australia/FEI-sanctioned events in New South Wales where any horses stay overnight will need to be vaccinated against the Hendra virus from January 1.
Equestrian New South Wales announced the new policy yesterday.
Australia/FEI-sanctioned events where horses may stay overnight will be officially classified as Hendra Vaccinated Events, it said.
The body said it had a responsibility to its members, horses, event organisers and venues to implement a policy to protect equine and human health for the entire community by all available means.
Widespread vaccination would effectively prevent future human and equine fatalities from the bat-borne virus, it said.
Equestrian NSW said it was in talks with Zoetis, the producer of the Hendra vaccine, to continue to offer the vaccine as affordably as possible for Equestrian Australia-registered horses only for a short time.
“As part of this initiative, Equestrian NSW will also offer a 50 percent reduction on the cost of Equestrian Australia online base horse registrations on the proviso that members taking up this offer also vaccinate against Hendra.”
More details on the offer will be online soon, it said.
“We are also working through processes to enable event organisers to take advantage of the Zoetis database to confirm vaccination status of all horses entered in Hendra Vaccinated Events to make administration of this policy as simple and effective as possible.”
Equestrian NSW said the incidence of Hendra virus infecting horses had increased in NSW in the last 12 months, with four out of the past seven outbreaks reported occurring in state.
“Equestrian NSW is in no doubt that should a case of Hendra virus be identified at an EA/FEI event, significant consequences to event organisers, venues and, indeed, Equestrian NSW members and their horses would be experienced.”
Horses that are in close contact with each other over a length of time are at risk, it noted.
Equestrian NSW will require that, as of January 1, 2014, all horses attending any Equestrian Australia/FEI event conducted in the state where horses may stay overnight be considered a Hendra Vaccinated Event and will be fully protected against Hendra Virus as per the manufacturer’s registered label claim.
Organisers of such events must refuse entry to anyone who cannot verify their horses have been fully vaccinated.
A Hendra Vaccinated Event will be any EA/FEI event held in NSW where one or more horses are staying overnight at the event venue.
Regardless of whether a horse attending a Hendra Vaccinated Event is staying overnight it must be fully vaccinated. This applies equally to horses attending only for a few hours tethered to float or truck.
Equestrian Australia A events that run in NSW where no horses stay overnight are exempt from requiring mandatory vaccinations from entered horses at this time.