Friday, February 22, 2008

Australian State Declared Free of Equine Influenza - Feb 14 2008 - Full Story

Less than six months after the first horse was infected, all properties in the Australian state of New South Wales (NSW) have been declared free of equine influenza.

"I can say today that not one horse in NSW is now known to have equine influenza," said Ian Macdonald, NSW primary industries minister.

At the peak of outbreak, more than 41,000 horses were infected on more than 5,800 properties.

Macdonald said the government has spent more than $46 million containing the exotic disease, which escaped from a government quarantine center. More than 100,000 horses have since been vaccinated.

"Today is a tribute both to the people who have been directly engaged in the battle against (influenza) and the horse industries, and the thousands of horse owners across the state whose vigilance, discipline and cooperation have been critical to stopping the spread of the virus," Macdonald said.

The government's goal has been to totally eradicate equine influenza from NSW by mid-March.

"Extensive testing is on-going to ensure we have not missed any isolated pockets of disease and it is vital that horse owners remain vigilant, report any sick horses, and observe movement restrictions," Macdonald said.

As part of the influenza campaign the state government has:

* Vaccinated approximately 50,000 horses;
* Carried out over 100,000 tests at the Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute;
* Established more than 20 control and vaccination centers across NSW;
* Enlisted an influenza workforce of about 2,000;
* Implemented a successful zoning system to free up movements and allow breeding season to be undertaken and racing to resume.

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