Aussie Flu Outbreak: Equine Events to Resume in Queensland

Equestrian events are poised to resume in the southeast area of Queensland as concerns about equine influenza ease, Treasurer and Acting Minister for Primary industries and Fisheries Andrew Fraser said in a statement.

"With no new cases reported since Christmas, there are now fewer than 300 infected properties in the red zone and that number is dropping each day,'' Fraser said.

Fraser said 30 applications had been submitted for equestrian events to be held in the January-April time period.

"Event organizers have identified suitable sites and have committed to implementing strict biosecurity including blood tests to prevent any infection of healthy horses," Fraser said. "That the pleasure and performance horse industry has reached this stage as quickly as it has is the result of the responsible approach taken by the horse industry as a whole and by the public.''

Allison Crook, BVSc MACVSc, chief inspector of stock, said details of all approved events, the necessary protocols, biosecurity plans and contingency plans in the event of a lockdown are available at www.dpi.qld.gov.au.  

Interest from organizers and competitors has been intense, according to Simon Goddard, events coordinator for the Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries.

"While (the Department) and horse groups are doing everything possible to facilitate this process, event organizers must appreciate that (the outbreak) is far from over, and the highest levels of biosecurity will be needed to hold an event," he said.

Performance and Pleasure Horse Industry spokesperson Peter Toft said many event organizers had decided that only vaccinated or blood tested horse would be considered eligible to compete in the red zone.

"This is entirely appropriate, especially for the first few months of the event calendar for 2008," he said. "Things are not back to normal yet and horse owners should not relax, but we all hope that the end is in sight."

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