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Double trouble in Dubbo over equine flu

September 19, 2007

The equine flu virus has spread 2.5km across a river in Dubbo, with horses on three nearby properties around the second outbreak showing signs of the disease.

"This infection follows the trend in other parts of the state where spread to nearby properties is occurring," said NSW deputy chief veterinary officer Steve Dunn.

The properties are all within the established restricted area, he said.

"Since day one of the outbreak we have said that this virus can be carried on the wind. However, the biggest risk is horses, people, clothes, and equipment."

Dunn said authorities were looking at deploying vaccine to Dubbo to hem in the known disease areas and stop lateral transfer by creating a ring of immunity around hotspots.

"People movements between properties should occur only if absolutely necessary and with strict hygiene procedures followed."

Meanwhile, authorities are looking to clamp down on those caught moving horses in breach on a state-wide ban. Concern has also been voiced over illegal horse movements across the border into Victoria.

As many as 15 people face prosecution for moving horses across the border, where 29 crossings are being manned.

In New South Wales, nine 24-hour checkpoints on major roads have been set up to catch people breaching the ban. Authorities have said the checkpoints will remain in place for at least 10 days. They reminded horse owners that the penalty for a breach is a fine of up to $A44,000 or 12 months in prison.

Twenty-one-year-old stockman Zachary Croker has already been fined $A4500 after pleading guilty in the Dalby Magistrates Court to moving a horse without a permit in Queensland. He was also ordered to pay court costs.

"Blatant breaches of the standstill jeopardise the control programme and could cost horse industries millions of dollars," said Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries chief veterinary officer Dr Ron Glanville.

"Even worse, illegal movements could result in the disease becoming totally uncontrollable. I am pleased that the vast majority of the horse owners have done the right thing and have complied with the stock standstill."

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