WNV Holds Up Australian Quarantine

The Australian Horse Industry Council congratulated quarantine authorities for their actions in the case of a horse which became sick during quarantine in Sydney and later was determined to have West Nile virus (WNV). Horse Council president Paul O'Callaghan, BVSc, said, "The horse was only released after a risk assessment based on sound science and good consultation. The Post-Arrival Quarantine has once again proved its value. The taking of blood from all horses on arrival, a practice introduced for the 2000 Olympics, was invaluable in determining the cause of the horse's illness."

The stallion arrived in Sydney on Aug. 12 from Canada via Chicago, Ill., and became ill five days after arrival. He had a fever and severe neurologic signs, including muscle tremors and incoordination. The horse had current vaccinations for Eastern equine encephalitis, Western equine encephalitis, rabies, and equine herpesvirus-type 1. Over seven days the horse stabilized and gradually returned to full health. The stallion was not housed in insect-proof stables while in Illinois, and authorities think he was infected there.

The quarantine station also housed 49 valuable stallions which had arrived for Southern Hemisphere stud duty. The horses were due to leave quarantine on Aug. 27. The quarantine period was extended until the cause of the stallion's illness was diagnosed.

Horses and humans are "dead-end" hosts for WNV. They do not spread the virus by contact and are not capable of infecting mosquitoes. Therefore, this horse posed no risk for other horses or humans.

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