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Equine Influenza contained in Australia; no sign in New Zealand

Equine Influenza contained in Australia; no sign in New Zealand

As Australian officials demanded a probe of biosecurity failures which led to an outbreak of equine influenza, New Zealand counterparts expressed confidence border controls had kept the disease at bay.
New South Wales agriculture minister Ian Macdonald renewed his call Wednesday for a public inquiry into how equine influenza reached Australia. The disease, which has now been located at at least 73 properties in New South Wales and others in Queensland, has shut down the Australian racing industy and led to bans on horse movements within those states.
Agriculture officials expressed confidence Wednesday the disease has been contained in New South Wales and in Queensland state where 118 of 250 horses at one facility are showing symptoms of the disease.
However, later reports suggested the disease may have spread to other properties in Brisbane's west. A horse showing symptoms of the disease in Victoria state was blood tested and found to be free of equine influenza.
Macdonald said it was still necessary to determine how EI had breached biosecurity barriers to ensure similar disease outbreaks did not occur in the future.
"It's important we find how this breach occurred, how our biosecurity framework in Australia and New South Wales was breached so badly, because we could have other diseases that could get in here that have massive consequences upon our population and our agricultural industries," he said.
"We should investigate that in a full public inquiry and get to the bottom of it because we should see this in a way as making sure we can shore up our biosecurity framework for the future and keep those barriers tight."
Macdonald said he believed authorities had contained the outbreak in New South Wales.
"We're now up to 73 properties that either have it, or are suspected to have it," he said.
"We believe we're gradually containing it and once we've contain it we can look at how we can assist racing clubs get back to business."
Meanwhile, equine authorities expressed increasing confidence Wednesday that the disease had not reached New Zealand. Veterinary staff have taken blood samples from horses that have recently arrived in New Zealand from Australia and no sign of the disease has been found.
John O'Flaherty, from New Zealand's Equine Health Association, said the danger period appeared to have passed.
"I would have to say, every day that passes is like a big sigh of relief because it should have shown its head already," he said.
New Zealand has banned imports of horses from Australia and tightened border control procedures. Horse equipment arriving from Australia is fumigated and airline passengers are routinely asked whether they have visited areas affected by equine influenza.
New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing Wednesday banned riders or stable workers from Australia from working in New Zealand.
"When Australia gets to the point where they can say 'we've got X number of properties and there are no more', then we can start to say 'that's great, now let's wait for them to get through it'," O'Flaherty said.
"Because if they can keep all those horses from moving for a couple of months we'll be right."


Updated : 2021-06-12 19:47 GMT+08:00