Number of EI-Infected Horses Continues to Grow

Number of EI-Infected Horses Continues to Grow
Photo: Associated Press
A horse looks out from its enclosure at a stable in Randwick near Sydney.

The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries said 835 horses on 119 properties across the state were infected with equine influenza as of Sept. 3, with another 2,900 horses on 319 additional properties considered suspect of having EI.

The good news is tracing procedures have accounted for each infected property, deputy chief veterinary officer Steve Dunn said in a release. The numbers, however, continue to rise. There were 500 flu-infected horses as of Aug. 31, and 700 infected horses as of Sept. 1.

A ban on the movement of horses across New South Wales will remain in place for at least another week, Department of Primary Industries Minister Ian Macdonald said Sept. 3. Macdonald said government, racing, and sport horse representatives made the decision at a Ministerial Equine Influenza Response Group meeting to keep the ban on horse movement in place.

“The state is still obviously in the grip of horse flu, and the ban on the movement of horses must stay in place to stop the disease spreading further,” Macdonald said in a statement.

Dunn said the reporting of sick horses is vital to eradicating equine influenza. “This is a highly contagious disease,” he said. “Our experience is that all animals housed together or close to infected horses are likely to get the disease.”

The government said quarantine restrictions on infected properties will be in place until 30 days after the onset of clinical signs of EI in the last clinical case. The Department of Primary Industries will use the expertise of the Rural Fire Service and other agencies to supply geographical information services to assist in mapping the extent of the outbreak.

As far as horse racing goes, Macdonald said there could be “phantom races” at Warwick Farm the weekend of Sept. 8, with wagering offered at Canterbury Park. The plan hinges on government approval, which could come Sept. 5, he said.

Macdonald said the government would look at possibly extending such phantom races to Thoroughbred tracks at Newcastle and Rosehill, as well as harness racing at Bankstown.


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