Australia: Former Equine Flu Hot Spots Declared Free of Virus

Areas of New South Wales, Australia, formerly considered to be "hot spots" for equine influenza were given a clean bill of health Feb. 8, according to Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald.

"Exhaustive testing has failed to identify horse flu at Armidale, Narrabri, Gunnedah, Dubbo, Wellington, Parkes, Forbes, and Grenfell," Macdonald said. "At the height of the outbreak hundreds of horse properties in these areas were quarantined. Today, the gates open and they are free to move provided they have a travelling horses statement."

These areas have joined the other 91% of the state considered free of influenza. These areas are now part of the White Zone, previously called the protected area Green Zone.

"Horses within the White Zone can be moved over state borders more easily following the downgrading of the green zone to the same level of risk as interstate (influenza) free areas," Macdonald said. "This is yet another achievement in the war against horse flu and the cooperative effort to rid NSW of this exotic disease."

The government has spent almost $46 million to reign in the virus.

In another significant move, all of the Red Zone north of the Hawkesbury River has been downgraded to Amber, with a small area south of the Hawkesbury (near Wollongong and Camden) and the Blue Mountains remaining in the Red Zone while more testing is undertaken.

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