Saturday, August 25, 2007
The Honourable Peter McGauran, Federal Minister for Agriculture, has issued a 72 hour Australia wide travel ban on all Equine horse species. The ban followed confirmation that 16 horses from two separate Sydney locations have been infected with Equine Influenza. This follows earlier restrictions placed on horses in New South Wales (NSW).
Mr McGauran said “There will be a 72-hour ban on all race meetings for both thoroughbreds and harness…”
“In addition there will be an order for standstill for all horses under licensed persons. Also, an appeal to all those with ponies, recreational horses or work horses not to leave their properties…”
Equine flu was first detected in a stallion at Eastern Creek Quarantine station after arriving from the northern hemisphere. There are 80 horses currently in quarantine at either Eastern Creek in New South Wales or at the Spotswood quarantine station in Victoria. These horses are thoroughbreds brought into Australia for the spring breeding season. Horses currently in quarantine are expected to be held for another 30 days.
The movement ban caused the cancellation of race meeting across the country, resulting in losses of tens of millions of dollars.
Equine flu is highly contagious though it is not infectious to humans, though skin, clothing and equipment can transmit the disease. Additional restrictions have been place on people and equipment in NSW with exclusion zones around the quarantine stations. Breaches of these restriction could result in fines of up to A$44,000 and/or imprisonment for up to 12 months.
The normally unrestricted travel of horses between Australia and New Zealand has been suspended and New Zealand authorities are checking all horses that have entered the country since the beginning of August.