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Equine Flu update from Dr Ron Glanville (DPI&F)

October 24, 2007

by Dr Ron Glanville,
Chief Veterinary Officer
Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries

New inner buffer zones
Progress in the outer buffer zone has progressed very well with more than 95% of horses vaccinated in the Goondiwindi section. The Gympie section is about 70% complete, while the Chinchilla, Yarraman, Tweed and Granite belt sections are about 50-60% complete.

DPI&F is releasing the details of strategic inner buffers to reduce the likelihood of any spread to Sunshine Coast area in the north of the red zone. The initial Sunshine Coast inner buffer will link to further inner buffer zones planned to run from Inglewood in the west, through Crows Nest and Esk districts. The buffer zones are generally 10km wide with some exceptions in the Toowoomba region.

This will effectively split the red zone in two with the aim to contain the disease in the south east corner of the red zone.

About 27,000 vials of vaccine have been dispensed to veterinarians for use in the buffer zone, for performance horses or for the racing and harness industries.

Australia has placed additional orders for vaccine, taking the total to 525,000 doses. While this sounds like a substantial amount, with each horse requiring three doses of vaccines over the first six months this equates to only an extra 120,000 horses that can be vaccinated Australia wide. The number of doses going to each state and where it is used is determined by the National Management Group (NMG) which consists of the CEOs Commonwealth and State Departments of Agriculture, Horse Peak Industry bodies, and the CEO of CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory.

The new Performance and Pleasure Horse Industry has been working closely with the Queensland Government. Key areas of immediate focus are the determination of vaccination and movement priorities as well as investigating:

Demographics of the industry
Financial support programmes
Recovery planning and strategies
Industry confidence and welfare
Communications to the industry

A sign alerting people that they are entering a horse property is now available from DPI&F.

The newly formed Performance and Pleasure Horse Industry has thrown its support behind the project, encouraging all industry members, from Olympians to pony club participants, to play their part and display the new sign that aims to enhance biosecurity.

Designed by DPI&F, the signs were developed after horse owners voiced concerns that representatives of utility companies, charity groups, delivery drivers, trades people, religious groups, and others could be carrying the disease by visiting various horse properties without taking proper biosecurity precautions.

These free signs are available from local DPI&F Equine Influenza Community Resource Centres or can be downloaded from the department's website.

In an effort to stop the spread of the disease, visitors to properties should gain permission from the owner before entering the property and follow strict hygiene procedures.

All horse owners or operators of horse businesses are reminded that it is a legal requirement to register the 'place' or location of their horse and contact details. The regulation provides a time period for notifying the DPI&F of 14 days from the time the ownership or management of a horse changes. This includes the change of ownership details of land parcels where horse are kept that are sold or purchased.



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