NSW Influenza Outbreak: New Zone System Activated

Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald has reminded horse owners across New South Wales (NSW) to about the new equine influenza (EI) color zones, which came into effect Sept. 21. The zones are intended to delineate what equine movement is allowed in each area, depending on the calculated risk of virus transmission.

"Today is a new era in the management of equine influenza in NSW with the softening of movement regulations in some parts of the State," Macdonald said. "Owners are required to take on a new level of responsibility. How this is handled will be crucial to the success of the current campaign to stamp out EI and prevent new infections".

Macdonald said a public information campaign by the NSW Department of Primary Industries is underway to ensure that horse owners have the correct information. The Department's Web site is receiving about 20,000 hits per day. Additionally, an EI hotline has been established. Information fact sheets are also available at all Department offices in NSW.

"This is a massive effort to get information out to the public," Macdonald said. "We need the public to play their role and seek out the information they need to make informed decisions."

The four color zones were delineated based on said intelligence gathered by epidemiologists, surveillance teams, and field veterinarians.

Equine Center

The zones are:

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.

Downloadable maps of the four EI zones are available on the Department's Web site. Australian horse owners can also contact the NSW Equine Influenza Hotline 1800 675 888 for more information.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More