It may not be V for victory, but there can be no doubting the importance of today's scheduled arrival of vaccine in the fight against equine flu.
The first 20,000 doses of live attenuated vaccine are due in Australia today. New South Wales and Victoria will split 18,500 doses, the remainder going to Victoria to inoculate horses destined to compete in the spring carnival.
More vaccine will arrive next week and it is understood a plan is in place for the vaccination of up to 50,000 horses in the next fortnight.
The vaccine's arrival comes just a day after the first race meeting in New South Wales since the outbreak began a month ago.
The race meeting at Coffs Harbours did not allow spectactors and was be held under strict biosecurity measures. A meeting is scheduled for Ballina on Friday, then Wagga Wagga on Saturday.
NSW Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said the new zoning system in the state will enable some country clubs to apply for permits for meetings in coming weeks.
"One of our aims with the new zoning system is to free up movement in the areas that are free of horse flu, and that includes events such as country race meets."
Mr Macdonald said if there were no problems staging the meetings, hopefully others would follow.
Meanwhile, at Warwick Farm racing precinct, where an outbreak was confirmed six days ago, the disease is reported to be spreading through the equine population. All horses in the 37 stables around Warwick Farm have been tested, with many already showing signs of the disease.
In other news:
- The number of infected properties in NSW stands at 2341, with another 331 labelled "dangerous contact" and 319 "suspect". The number of new infected properties emerging each day is said to be declining.
- Victoria has renewed its ban on horses, horse products, fittings and horse vehicles crossing the border into the state for a further 30 days, or until lifted. The ban now includes equine reproductive material.
- The Royal Hobart Show in Tasmania, scheduled for February, has decided to call off all horse events because of the risk of influenza.
- Some racehorse owners have complained they are not getting enough federal assistance from the Commonwealth's $A110 million relief package, saying some are left with a bill of $A65 a day for a horse they're unable to race.
- Racing in Brisbane is cancelled until at least February, with the Eagle Farm and Doomben racing precincts affected by the disease.
- Queensland has activated its state disaster management group to handle ongoing issues with the flu crisis.
- Victoria is seeking more vaccine. Officials want to inoculate all 7100 thoroughbreds in the state to ensure the go-ahead of the spring racing carnival in six weeks, which includes the Melbourne Cup.
- Victorian opposition leader Ted Baillieu claims horses are still crossing from NSW into Victoria, despite border controls, which he has lablled inadequate.