Equine Influenza: 1,311 Affected on 146 Properties

There now are 1,311 equine influenza-infected horses on 146 confirmed properties in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, according to NSW Department of Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald on Sept. 5. There are 3,376 horses suspected of having influenza on 405 other properties.

In a scary turn for the country's large Thoroughbred breeding industry, Macdonald said equine influenza has hit Hunter Valley Thoroughbred breeding farms. Good news came when Aubury, Warwick Farm and Rosehill were cleared when horses there tested negative for flu. Those horses will continue to be monitored.

“This is bad news for horse breeders--a Murrurundi horse breeding facility and another near Scone are in lockdown after horses there tested positive for equine influenza,” Macdonald said. "The NSW Department of Primary Industries has confirmed these are the first Thoroughbred breeding facilities in NSW where horse flu has been detected. Obviously, both properties are now declared infected, and strict quarantine is in place to stop the further spread of the disease.

“NSW DPI tracing and surveillance teams are now working to identify how the disease made its way on to the properties," added Macdonald. "We need to establish a link to a known infected property so we understand how this infection occurred.”

Negative test results for equine influenza were received from five locations on the NSW far north coast. Samples from horses near Casino, Lismore, Grafton, Tweed Heads, and Yamba were negative for flu. According to government information, this means there are no positive confirmed cases of equine influenza on the far north coast at this point. However, tests have not been received from one property near Tweed Heads; those results should be available Sept. 6 .

Macdonald said he was still hopeful that “phantom racing” will be held at Warwick Farm on Saturday, with punters able to watch race broadcasts, although they will not be permitted trackside.

“Approval for phantom races involving horses already quarantined at the track needs to be granted by the national Consultative Community on Emergency Animal Diseases; we are hopeful that will happen tomorrow,” Macdonald said.

Macdonald said the government would look at extending “phantom races” to Rosehill and Newcastle at a special meeting of the Ministerial Equine Influenza Response Group on Monday (Sept. 10).

Minister Macdonald also issued a reminder that the ban on horse movement and race meets remained in place across New South Wales. “We still have a complete standstill in place to stop the disease from spreading,” he said. "People must abide by the ban on horse movements. Those that flaunt the law face a fine of $44,000 and 12 months jail.”

Mortgage Assistance for Horse Flu Victims

New South Wales Minister for Housing Matt Brown announced on Sept. 5 that people affected by the horse flu outbreak that are struggling to meet their mortgage repayments could be eligible for financial assistance.

“The NSW Government Mortgage Assistance Scheme helps people who find themselves, through no fault of their own, struggling to meet their mortgage obligations,”Brown said. “There are many people who will be affected by the horse flu outbreak, from trainers to stable hands, catering staff to milliners. This is a one-off loan paid direct to the home loan lender of the successful applicant. The government loan can make up home loan arrears or can subsidise future home loan payments for a certain amount of time.

“The maximum loan is $12,000, and successful applicants enter into a repayment agreement before the money is paid,” Brown said.
“It is essential for other battling families that the loan is repaid so the money can then be used to help someone else."

“With a relatively small amount of money, the NSW Government can help struggling families stay in their home,” Brown added.

People affected by the horse flu outbreak could be eligible for assistance if:

  • The total amount owed on their home is less than $270,000;The value of their home is less than $500,000;
  • The applicants gross household income is less than $70,000 per year;
  • The applicant is living in the home;
  • Home loan repayments currently exceed 36% of gross household income; and
  • Regular repayments were being made before the outbreak of the flu.

About the Author

Kimberly S. Brown

Kimberly S. Brown was the Publisher/Editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care from June 2008 to March 2010, and she served in various positions at Blood-Horse Publications since 1980.

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