Australian Racehorse Imports From the UK To Resume

Racehorses from the United Kingdom will be allowed to travel on direct flights to Australia for race meetings (such as the Melbourne Cup) following detailed inspections of pre-export quarantine facilities by senior veterinary officer s with the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS).

AQIS visited the United Kingdom to confirm that Australia's strict requirements will continue to address exotic disease risks, and that suspensions put in place for importing racehorses during the foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in the UK can safely be lifted.

Biosecurity Australia and AQIS developed strict new protocols to allow these valuable horses into Australia while maintaining our freedom from FMD and a number of horse diseases. The United States, Canada and New Zealand removed their restrictions on racehorses from the UK some time ago.

Australia's FMD requirements for racehorse imports include:

  • the horses must not have been kept in premises classed as 'restricted' by the UK Department of Environment, Food and Regional Affairs in the 21 days before entering pre-export quarantine (PEQ);
  • two-week mandatory PEQ at authorised facilities at least 10 kilometres from any FMD-infected property;
  • no cloven-hoofed animals to be allowed in PEQ facilities for at least 28 days before the horses arrival, and any potential risk material must be removed before they can enter;
  • approval of PEQ facilities before quarantine can begin;
  • horses must be transported to the PEQ facility in dedicated vehicles that have been cleaned and disinfected;
  • the horses are to be disinfected when they enter PEQ (this includes removing horseshoes and cleaning the hooves), and when they leave, and the vehicles are to be cleaned and disinfected before loading;
  • the movement of people into the PEQ is restricted to essential staff, with everyone entering to wear protective clothing or dedicated work clothes and boots;
  • all saddles, leather and other equipment must be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected with an approved disinfectant and under veterinary supervision;
  • on arrival in Australia, the horses are to be disinfected when they reach the post-arrival quarantine (PAQ) facility for their mandatory two-week quarantine;
  • no cloven-hoofed animals are allowed to be in the PAQ facility while the horses are present, or within 100 metres of the imported animals;
  • grooms, and other personnel, who remain on-site during PAQ must leave their clothing and boots on-site for the duration of PAQ;
  • all equipment will be inspected on arrival in Australia, and may be irradiated if necessary;
  • people accompanying the horses must bring clean, laundered clothing only, and their footwear will be inspected, cleaned and disinfected on arrival; and
  • the horses will remain under quarantine surveillance in Australia at specified premises until exported within 60 days.

These requirements will maintain Australia's FMD-free status, and are consistent with the highly conservative approach to quarantine that has kept this devastating disease out of the country for almost 130 years.

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