Monday, August 27, 2007

The number of horses confirmed to be infected with Equine Influenza in Australia has risen to 47, all in the state of New South Wales. So far none of those confirmed infected have been thoroughbred race horses.

The NSW government has confirmed infections at the federal government’s quarantine facility at Eastern Creek and Centennial Park in Sydney; at Cattai and Wilberforce in North-Western Sydney; and in Moonbi, Parkes, Berry and Wyong in regional NSW.

It is also feared that the outbreak may have spread to Warwick in Queensland where three horses from NSW showed flu-like symptoms during an equestrian event. Initial samples were tested in a laboratory in Brisbane revealing the three animals had been carrying the flu. Further testing will be conducted on samples from the horses in Victoria, although results are not expected until later this week. All 300 horses at the event have been quarantined.

There are also three suspected cases of the virus infecting thoroughbreds at Randwich racecourse in Sydney, if the horses test positive to the flu they will be the first thoroughbreds to be infected with the virus.

The Federal Agriculture Minister, Peter McGauran told ABC Radio this morning that while the source of the outbreak was not known, it is likely that the outbreak may have been caused by an equestrian event held in Maitland on the 18th and 19th of August.

“Everyone’s been assuming it was the Centennial Park horses that travelled and infected horses in different parts of regional NSW,” he said.

“It would appear at this stage that almost all, if not every horse affected has passed through a Maitland horse event on the weekend of the 18th and 19th, or come in contact with a Maitland horse.”

Agriculture Minister of NSW, Ian Macdonald told reporters “It’s early days yet, but a number of horses that attended an event at the property on that weekend are showing clinical signs of equine influenza”.

“The NSW Chief Vet, Bruce Christie, has advised me that we need to locate and examine every single horse that entered and left the property.”

At this stage it appears the Australia wide ban on horse movements which expires on Wednesday may have to be extended, at least in NSW and Queensland.

Further developments to this story are available. See:
Horse flu infects Australian thoroughbreds
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