New Zealand Disease Specialists Learn from Australia Equine Flu

New Zealand exotic disease specialists drafted into the equine influenza response team battling the outbreak of equine influenza in New South Wales (NSW), Australia, will apply knowledge gained through handling this outbreak to improve their emergency response system.

"From the NSW experience it is apparent that equine influenza could travel from one end of New Zealand to another in a very short time," said Helen Crabb, an epidemiologist from Waikato, center of New Zealand's equine industry. "The best way New Zealand can prepare veterinarians for outbreaks of exotic diseases is to send people to work on outbreaks across the world such as England's foot and mouth and Australia's (equine influenza)."

Biosecurity managers with the New Zealand government have also toured a local control center and received briefings from outbreak control authorities.

Richard Calvert and Andrea Murray said first-hand experience of Australia's response to equine influenza would help them to make recommendations on how to improve New Zealand's state of readiness.

"The key point we have learnt is that knowing exactly where horses are is critical to controlling and eradicating equine influenza," Calvert said.

The two New Zealanders studied the operations, surveillance, movement control, management, and epidemiology measures conducted by the response team.

Equine influenza has never occurred in New Zealand, according to a government fact sheet.

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