Industry Praised for Eradicating Equine Flu in Australia

One year after equine influenza was first reported in New South Wales, Australia, Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald said Aug. 24 that the state's horse industry is back on track.

"Exactly one year ago today our horse industries' were facing their darkest hour, with the state in lockdown and the disease spreading rapidly," Macdonald said.

This was the largest exotic disease response ever witnessed in Australia.

"During the outbreak we learnt how highly contagious equine influenza is, how humans can inadvertently spread it, and the importance of working with industry and all horse owners to get rid of the disease," Macdonald noted. "Our racing, breeding, and many other horse sectors like equestrian, rodeo, and polocrosse are back in business and are looking forward to a bright future and a spring that is memorable for the right reasons.

To review the outbreak of equine influenza in New South Wales:

  • At its peak, 47,000 horses on 5,943 New South Wales properties were infected;
  • More than 109,000 doses of the latest genetically-modified vaccine were given to more than 50,000 horses;
  • The state government spent more than $50 million eradicating the disease and enlisted an additional workforce of about 2,000 people; and
  • The government put in place a world-first equine movement control zoning system and established an online registration system.

Virologists and laboratory staff at the Department of Primary Industries' Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute conducted more than 132,000 sample tests--3,000 per day during the busiest period

"While these are very, very impressive figures, the successful eradication could not have happened without the support and sacrifice of the 50,000 people who are part of our horse industries," Macdonald said.

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