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Standstill ordered on all horse movements in WA

Media release : 5.00pm 25 August 2007

The Department of Agriculture and Food has imposed a 72 hour standstill on the movement of all horses, donkeys and mules within Western Australia.

Department Director of Animal Biosecurity Ashley Mercy said the standstill was part of a coordinated national effort to prevent the spread of equine influenza following a strong suspicion of the virus at two locations in NSW.

Dr Mercy said the whole of Western Australia was subject to the standstill, and no horses, donkeys or mules could be moved from the property where they are currently located.

"While there is no evidence to suggest equine influenza is present in Western Australia, the threat is being taken seriously to ensure the protection of the State's equine industries," Dr Mercy said.

All equine events and gatherings in Western Australia have been cancelled as part of the standstill.

"Horses already at an event should return directly home provided the travel is only within WA," Dr Mercy said.

"Horses in transit should be returned to their property of origin, unless there are extenuating circumstances such as a long return journey which has animal welfare implications.

"As a preventative measure, horses that return home should be kept isolated from other horses and all equipment should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected."

Dr Mercy said the standstill would apply for at least the next 72 hours and be reviewed as further information became available.

He said horse owners were reminded to be vigilant for any signs of respiratory disease including a dry hacking cough, watery nasal discharge and fever, together with loss of appetite, muscle pain and stiffness, and laboured breathing.

"Anyone witnessing these symptoms in their animals should contact a veterinarian or ring the emergency disease hotline on 1800 675 888," he said.

For further information on the movement restrictions contact your nearest office of the Department of Agriculture and Food or phone 0429 687 381.

Media Contacts

Ashley Mercy, Director Animal Bisoecurity,

0427 479 416

Lisa Bertram, Media liaison officers

0420 411 101