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Queensland's flu under control by Christmas

November 23, 2007

The outbreak of equine influenza should be under control in Queensland by Christmas, says the state's chief veterinary officer Ron Glanville.

"The latest trend analysis from the EI epidemic is looking promising," he says.

The epidemic peaked in early October in Queensland and has been declining ever since.

"An analysis of these trends by Dr Nigel Perkins from AUSVET Animal Health Services, in conjunction with the Department of Primary Industries, has also supported the prediction that the outbreak should be largely under control by Christmas.

"However, this scenario very much relies on people continuing to do the right thing and not spreading the virus into new areas.

"I would like to sincerely thank every horse owner for being so patient and adhering to the rules. I know that there has been a lot of pain associated with this, but I'm also sure that there will be long term gain as a result."

Dr Glanville says the overall aim now is to suppress the epidemic as quickly as possible so that equine-related industries can start to get back on their feet. It is hoped that some zoning downgrades can begin around December 10. "This will free up significant areas outside of the outer vaccination buffer zone, and create an amber 'sausage' with significantly reduced movement restrictions.

He said the vaccination programme was continuing.

"Most people would be aware that vaccine for an additional 26,000 horses in the performance and pleasure horse sector was approved by the National Management Group. This is now being rolled out as quickly as possible."

There are agreed priorities for its use, including horses in the inner red zone not affected by the virus, breeding stock, horses that will need to be moved in the future for training, those in preparation for competition, and in situations related to welfare.

Dr Glanville said authorities are working hard on a protocol for moving horses out of the red zone into the green zone. This needs to have national agreement and will involve a quarantine period in most cases.



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