New Zone System Proposed to Contain Equine Influenza

A four-color zoning system has been introduced in New South Wales (NSW) as the next stage of the government's equine influenza protection plan, according to Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald.

Macdonald said the new zoning plan would see restrictions on horse movements softened in some areas of the state, particularly the important Thoroughbred breeding areas of the Hawkesbury and the Hunter.

"Zoning will enable us to focus our resources on known disease spots and high risk areas in NSW," he said.

"We have listened to the industry--taken its concerns on board and come up with a sound plan that maintains our commitment to stamping out the disease while allowing some movement of mares and foals in areas like the upper Hunter."

Minister Macdonald said the State will be broken into four color zones representing the known level of disease infection and risk of spread, based on information gathered by epidemiologists.

The zones are:

    Equine Center

  • Green--Protected Area: no disease, aim to keep free. Currently includes the Far West, Riverina and Eden-Monaro areas. Traveling Horse Statement required, along with a permit for events.
  • Amber--Control Area: no confirmed disease, suspect horses to be investigated as quickly as possible. Based around large parts of the Central West and North Coast areas. Movements can be authorized for racing and breeding. Movements to other events prohibited.
  • Red--Restricted Area: area of at least 10 km around Infected Premises, high containment and biosecurity to be applied to individual premises and area. Currently includes a band stretching from Sydney, Newcastle, and Central Coast areas roughly following the New England Highway up to the Queensland border. Limited permits within the red zone, current movement restrictions stand.
  • Purple--Special Restricted Area: largely infected, high containment and biosecurity applied to movements out of area. Includes two purple zones in the Upper Hunter and North West Sydney. Can move in with a permit but cannot leave until authorized.

The new zones will be effective from Friday. These regulations will be supported by the NSW police force.

"Today there are 1,363 infected properties with 11,872 horses, and another 670 properties are suspect," Macdonald said. "All infected properties are in containment lines.

"The challenge now is to let horse owners know where they fit within the EI protection plan and ensure they fulfill their responsibilities," he noted. "It is clear zoning hinges on the support of the general public and importantly each and every horse owner--no matter whether they own a racehorse worth tens of thousands or a companion pony.

More information on zoning will be available at  

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