New Flu Quarantine Allows Japanese Horses to Compete in Hong Kong

From the Hong Kong Jockey Club

Quarantine protocols will be enacted to enable Japanese horses to compete in the 2007 Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races.

Extensive negotiations between the Hong Kong Jockey Club; the Hong Kong Agriculture, Fisheries, and Conservation Department; the Japan Racing Association; and Japanese Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries concluded positively after more than one month of dialogue. The result is that Japanese contenders for the Dec. 9 Turf World Championships will be subject to a 14-day period of pre-export quarantine, with testing for equine influenza to be completed in Japan prior to departure to Hong Kong.

The quarantine facility will be set up at Hanshin Racecourse near Osaka, with no reported equine influenza cases within a radius of 10 kilometers around the track to be certified by MAFF. Shipment of the Japanese runners will be canceled if cases of influenza are reported within the radius during the quarantine period. The HKJC will inspect the Hanshin facility while the horses are in quarantine.

The agreement, however, will not permit runners--local or international--from the Nov. 25 Japan Cup to participate in the Cathay Pacific Hong Kong International Races because there will be insufficient time to complete the pre-export quarantine in Japan and then travel to Hong Kong.

According to a recent article by Tom Chambers, PhD, who heads The OIE Reference Laboratory for Equine Influenza at the University of Kentucky's Gluck Equine Research Center in Lexington, equine influenza appeared in Japan for the first time since 1972 earlier this year. The first cases were observed in mid-August, and soon thereafter several hundred clinical cases appeared in multiple training centers. This outbreak prompted the Japan Racing Association (JRA) to cancel all race meetings and ban horse movements throughout the country.

Meanwhile, on August 17, equine influenza was detected in imported horses at a quarantine station in Sydney, Australia. Equine influenza is an exotic disease in Australia; it had never been detected there before.

For more information on the current state of equine influenza, see Chambers' article "What in the World Is Going On with Equine Influenza?," reprinted courtesy of the Equine Disease Quarterly, funded by underwriters at Lloyd's, London, brokers, and their Kentucky agents.

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