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NSW shuts down horse events amid equine flu outbreak

August 25, 2007

Equine flu Q & A

The New South Wales Minister for Agriculture has issued an order to cancel all horse events and ban all horse movements in the state. The horse "standstill" is on for at least 72 hours.

The Equestrian Federation of Australia has joined the call to urge all horse owners and riders not to transport their horses and to avoid making contact with other horses. "They should thoroughly wash after contact with their horses. They should also watch out for any symptoms of infection in their horses, like a raised temperature, nasal discharge and coughing, and if present, report this firstly to their vet and, particluarly if groups of horses are involved, call the disease emergency hotline."

All equestrian events in NSW are to be called off pending further information on the extent of the Equine Influenza outbreak.

The EFA advises:

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, said today the outbreak was the most serious disease threat Australia's horse racing industry had ever faced.

"Australia has never before had an exotic disease outbreak in horses, and our highest priority is to contain the disease, which has currently been isolated to 11 horses in a facility at Centennial Park in Sydney," Mr McGauran said.

"We are still waiting on the results of further tests being conducted at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory at Geelong to determine if the disease is equine influenza (EI).

"All of NSW is now a control zone. This means that any horse movements within NSW or interstate will be strictly controlled by the NSW Department of Primary Industries.

"The outbreak has meant that race meetings in NSW have been cancelled. However, the impact of the disease outbreak has far wider implications, with horses playing a huge role in rural Australia, from on-farm use, to agricultural shows and pony clubs.

"The NSW Government and racing industries have responded swiftly and resolutely to the diagnosis and are doing everything humanly possible to contain the disease.

"The Consultative Committee on Exotic Diseases comprising Commonwealth and State chief veterinary officers, Biosecurity Australia, AQIS and key stakeholders met at 10am today by teleconference to determine further steps to be taken at both the State and national level.

"My Department has a coordinating role in managing the outbreak of the disease and they will provide NSW with whatever assistance they require.

"Each state is responsible for managing outbreaks such as this at the property level.

"Australia has international obligations to report any exotic disease outbreak and we expect other countries may now tighten their quarantine arrangements for horses coming from Australia," Mr McGauran said.

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