Australia Importing 50K Doses of Flu Vaccine

Australia is to import 50,000 doses of vaccine to help efforts to contain and eradicate an outbreak of equine influenza (EI).

The vaccine is sufficient to protect 25,000 horses from the highly contagious illness which has heavily affected the Australian racing industry and halted horse movements in New South Wales and Queensland states, Federal Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran said on Wednesday.

"Vaccination, in isolation, will not provide a quick fix for eradicating EI," McGauran said.

"Strict movement controls will remain in place around all infected areas to make sure horses do not leave these areas."

Doses of the vaccine, made by the pharmaceutical company Merial, will be imported from France.

"The vaccine that will be imported is considered to be the most effective vaccine for combating EI in the emergency situation currently in Australia and will be in the country within the week," McGauran said.

Equine influenza was first detected in Australia in August and spread widely among horse populations in New South Wales in Queensland. Racing was halted in both states, but has resumed on a limited basis.

The cost of the outbreak has been estimated at as much as $1 billion.

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The Associated Press

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