Australian quarantine officials Tuesday denied the import ban on horses would be lifted. Meryl Stanton, executive director of the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) told the Australian Associated Press she did not feel confident allowing horses into the country.
The AQIS imposed the ban last week because of the outbreak of hoof and mouth disease, primarily in Europe. The disease, which affects cloven hooved animals such as cattle, pigs, and sheep, is highly contagious. Horse may carry the disease but not be infected with it.
The ban in Australia is important because of the number of shuttle stallions who stand the Southern Hemisphere breeding season in the country. Should the ban remain in place through July, stallions in England and Ireland who shuttle to Australia would be unable to enter the country.
"The horses are an issue which we still haven't settled yet," Stanton told the AAP. "We're still talking to the industry, we're also talking to scientists," she said. "At the moment we're not confident enough, and the temporary suspension stands. But, I reiterate, we are looking at this on a daily basis and we're very actively looking at the issue of horses at the moment. Japan has recently withdrawn its invitation for horses to come to a particular meeting there from the EU. We are being very cautious about it, as we said we would be."
Stanton was refering to the Nakayama Grand Jump in Japan on April 14. The Japan Racing Association decided not to invite five horses from Europe because of the outbreak.
Australia remains the only country without a confirmed case of foot and mouth which has banned horses from crossing its borders.
So far in England, 300 case have been reported and approximately 300,00 animals have been destroyed.