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Key equine flu group believes battle will be won

December 1, 2007

The key management group overseeing Australia's fight against equine flu believes the disease will be beaten, but says Christmas will be a crucial time.

The National Management Group (NMG) said yesterday that the focus continues to be control of the disease.

"There remains a strong expectation eradication will be achieved if people adhere to precautions designed to prevent its spread," the group said in a statement.

The NMG is made up of the chief executives of the commonwealth and state or territory departments of agriculture or primary industries, as well as representatives of the horse industry peak bodies.

Its view is crucial as the NMG is behind the cohesive nation-wide response to the disease and has so far approved funding of $A72 million to fight the disease.

The group said it welcomed news of an increase in the number of green zones in New South Wales, zone changes planned for early December in Queensland, and a return to Sydney metropolitan and south-east Queensland racing this weekend.

"NMG was also encouraged by a reduction in numbers of new infected premises being reported, and the continued roll-out of the vaccination programme.

"NMG's view is the battle with equine influenza is being won, but during the pending Christmas holiday period, as many people move about and come into contact with horses, strict compliance with ongoing biosecurity measures will be required to ensure there are no new outbreaks of the disease."

The group agreed that further work should proceed on protocols that will progressively free up the movement of horses between control zones and also between states.

"These protocols will allow horses that have been stranded in infected states since August to return to their home states once certain conditions have been met. Different protocols will apply depending on which zone the horse is currently located and where its final destination is."

The NMG expects each jurisdiction to issue formal notification of these new arrangements soon.

The group is chaired by Dr Conall O'Connell, secretary of the Australian Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry.



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