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Human transmission suspected in fresh EI cases

November 7, 2007

More roadside signs are being erected around New South Wales to help increase EI awareness.

Equine influenza has been detected in horses on a property 4km south of Walcha, on the edge of the northern Tablelands, New South Wales deputy chief veterinary officer Ian Roth has confirmed.

"The property was placed in quarantine and samples taken from horses last week after clinical signs of equine flu developed. EI infection was confirmed yesterday," he said.

"A 10km restricted area, or red zone, has been placed around the property to further tighten movement restrictions and biosecurity requirements.

"Veterinary investigations have begun to trace the source of the infection as the distance from the closest infected property indicates the virus has been transferred by humans.

"Planning is now under way to start vaccinating horses in a buffer surrounding the red zone to stop the virus spreading."

NSW Primary Industries staff will soon begin contacting owners of horses known to be in the buffer as the first step in selecting horses to be vaccinated.

"As with all other buffers in NSW, there will be no blanket vaccination of all horses," Mr Roth said. "Vaccination will be used strategically within the buffer to stop the EI virus spreading.

"People who believe their horses may be in the buffer are urged to register for possible vaccination by calling the Armidale Local Vaccination Centre on 02 6772 2366.

The department has also reported new infections west of Bellata, near Millie, (between Narrabri and Moree).

Meanwhile, the Local Disease Control Centre (LDCC) at Camden commenced sample testing from the far north coast yesterday to confirm freedom from the disease in that area. Clear results will enable changes in the movement zones to take place.

Each new zone change requires a comprehensive risk assessment before it can be implemented.

To date the centre has issued 5347 movement permits and 3218 quarantine orders.

New rounds of roadside signs are being erected around NSW to increase the awareness of EI and the ongoing campaign.

Horse owners have been reminded it is a legal requirement to report any signs of infection to authorities.

If the infection occurs in an area where there have been many confirmed infections, it may not be necessary to send out a vet team to sample and confirm by lab testing. The property will, however, be recorded as an infected property, authorities said.

In other news, the Primary Industries department has received reports of vets lacking in biosecurity when visiting properties.

"Horse owners should expect visitors to their properties to comply with good biosecurity," the department said in its daily report. "If a vet or a service provider, such as a farrier, is not following biosecurity guidelines on entry and leaving your property, you should report them to DPI immediately.

Industry liaison staff at the State Disease Control Centre also met yesterday with the Equine Federation of Australia with the goal of developing a strategy to restart competition with in the purple zone early in December. Discussion also took place on the topic of reinitiating competition across some zone boundaries in early February.

Regional EI Community Education teams are being established for seven localities around the state. This will allow future community education activities to be conducted on a local level to address the issues unique to individual districts.

It will also allow better partnerships to be developed with key individuals and groups within the horse community.



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