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Next year looking brighter for horse owners

November 15, 2007

Horse owners in the state of Victoria can plan recreational events starting in the New Year, amid signs of a decline in the number of equine flu cases in New South Wales and Queensland, says Victoria's chief veterinary officer Hugh Millar.

"Providing Victoria remains free of EI and if progress continues with eradication activities, we expect all horse owners, riders, and breeders can start planning for the progressive recovery of horse events throughout 2008," he said.

Dr Millar said events are expected to resume in Victoria as part of a staggered approach to minimise risk, and additional requirements will be finalised following a period of consultation with affected bodies.

The Department of Primary Industries is working with event organisers to secure the 2008 premier harness racing event, the Interdominions, held from February to March 2008, and the Melbourne Premier Yearling Sale, held from 2 to 6 March 2008.

"We are considering biosecurity protocols with other states that may allow interstate yearlings to enter from NSW into Victoria from early February 2008 and feature in the Premier Sale."

Dr Millar said further national quarantine protocols for some horse movements from areas currently affected in NSW into Victoria could be determined within the next two months.

"With very positive signs now emerging from the containment and eradication programme in NSW and Queensland, we hope events will begin to return to business-as-usual in the New Year and throughout 2008," Dr Millar said.

"We recognise the threat of EI entering Victoria is still very real and we will mitigate risks for upcoming horse activities to ensure our EI free status is not jeopardised."

Dr Millar said it was crucial for horse owners to stay vigilant and help authorities keep EI out of Victoria as the industry enters a stage of recovery.

"We must stay alert as EI can strike horses or club activities at any time and may result in a costly vaccination programme, new quarantine measures and create further hardship for horse owners who have already made enormous sacrifices."

Dr Millar said the horse-owning community had done a tremendous job in helping to keep Victoria free of EI, and rigorous surveillance work will continue with strict biosecurity measures at all race meetings and events.



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