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Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries
The Honourable Tim Mulherin

Saturday, August 25, 2007

INDUSTRY STANDSTILL FORCED BY EQUINE FLU THREAT

A national horse standstill is being implemented in response to the strong suspicion that equine influenza has been detected in two premises in New South Wales.

Queensland Minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries Tim Mulherin said the cautious approach was in line with Australia’s veterinary emergency plan (Ausvetplan) and appropriate risk management.

“The purpose is to reduce the risk of spreading infection by avoiding congregations of horses from different origins,’’ Mr Mulherin said.

“So far, there has been no evidence of equine influenza in Queensland.

“However, we are working closely with the racing and recreational horse sectors to provide them with the level of protection which they want and deserve,” Mr Mulherin said.

Minister for Racing Andrew Fraser said the racing industry today decided to cancel weekend races as a precautionary measure.

“I’m very pleased with the cooperation of the industry,’’ Mr Fraser said.

“They have taken a very sensible approach and I am confident that other equine associations will be similarly responsible.’’

Biosecurity Queensland’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Ron Glanville, said horse events which were already underway could proceed on advice from DPI&F officers. Events not yet underway should be deferred.

Owners of animals wanting information about the national standstill should ring 132523 or read the information on the Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries website, following the Alert pointer to equine influenza at www.dpi.qld.gov.au.

Any animals suspected of having equine influenza must be reported to their vet as soon as possible.

Symptoms can include a high fever, a dry and hacking cough which later becomes moist and less frequent, and nasal discharge.

Affected horses can be lethargic, easily fatigued and lose their appetite.

“There is no risk to humans from equine influenza,’’ Dr Glanville said.

“However humans can spread the disease so horse owners are encouraged to limit their contact with horses and be sure to wash thoroughly with soap and water after contact with horses.

“Equine influenza is extremely contagious and could be fatal for foals or older horses. Previously fit and healthy horses can recover in 1-3 weeks. ’’


Media:
DPI& F Steve Rous 0414 287 836
Minister Mulherin’s office David Potter 0409 305 662