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Special conditions for competition horses in MAF import review

June 15, 1998

A Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry import health risk analysis for horses and horse semen proposes standards which may provide improved opportunities for visits by international level equestrian teams to New Zealand, particularly, before and after the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. The analysis was released today for public consultation. It examines the disease risks associated with the import of live horses and horse semen into New Zealand.

While the analysis recommends the implementation of post-arrival quarantine for live imported horses, it also suggests that imported competition horses invited to participate in equestrian events and invitation races are a special case which warrant a reduction in some pre-export import health standard requirements. These would be replaced by post-arrival restrictions.

For the New Zealand equine industries to attract international competition horses, import health standards must facilitate the import of horses in a state of competitive fitness, which is generally incompatible with the requirements of extended periods of quarantine isolation because quarantine stations rarely accommodate adequate training facilities. The risk analysis discusses appropriate pre-export and post-arrival management of competition horses and suggests safeguards be reduced because of specific management requirements and a high level of veterinary supervision.

The analysis examines diseases which pose a serious risk to equines but excludes any diseases already found in New Zealand. It examines the biological, clinical and epidemiological features of a disease and recommends an appropriate level of protection from its introduction when horses and horse semen are imported.

The public has until the end of July to make submissions on the analysis' contents. Following consultation, the analysis will form the basis for a review of import health standards for live equines and equine semen (donkey and zoo equids, such as zebra, are also considered). MAF's current live equine and equine semen import health standards require updating by taking into account technical developments and increased demand for importations from a wide range of countries.

The analysis recommends all imported live horses (except those from Australia and competition horses) go through a period of post-arrival quarantine to eliminate the chance of an introduction and spread of an equine disease, particularly that of equine influenza. Currently horses are not required to go through post-arrival quarantine. Only Australia and New Zealand have major horse populations free of equine influenza. Australia quarantines all imported horses, except those from New Zealand.

MAF has consulted with equine disease experts and the veterinarian community here and overseas to ensure the latest technical information is presented. The Ministry has gone to lengths to ensure sectors of the equine industries, including thoroughbred and standardbred racing and bloodstock industries, competition and recreational sporting horse societies and some specialised breeding centres, have been consulted.

MAF hopes to canvas a wide range of views. Other livestock industries may also be interested in how the potential risk of disease affecting species other than horses can be managed.

Submissions close 31 July.



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