Australian EI Update: More Than 150 Horses Reported Sick

The unofficial tally of sick horses in Australia was reported to be more than 150 on Aug. 26.

Horses at Broughton Vale near Berry, Moonbi near Tamworth, Moree, Wyong, Wilberforce, and Cattai have tested positive to the equine influenza virus, according to a release from the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industries. The unofficial tally of sick horses in Australia was reported to be more than 150 on Aug. 26.

NSW chief veterinary officer Dr. Bruce Christie said surveillance teams based at the State Disease Control Centre found sick horses by tracing suspect horses that had been in contact with the infected horses at Centennial Park.

"All confirmed cases are being kept under stringent quarantine and closely monitored until they fully recover," Christie said. "The new cases highlight the critical need for movement restrictions, as just one infected horse can infect others with the virus. To eliminate the spread of equine influenza, it's essential horse owners support the current standstill which has been in place since Saturday."

Horses, ponies, and donkeys cannot be moved anywhere in New South Wales, and restrictions are in place for horse vans and trailers, which can spread the virus via infected material. Racing has been halted everywhere in the country, except for the Northern Territory.

Owners are urged to monitor their animals closely for symptoms of equine influenza and to report any signs of the disease.

Frontline posts are being established at Scone, Moonbi, Parkes, Berry, and Northwest Sydney to better manage the outbreak and reinforce communications with the Local Disease Control Centre.

NSW Department of Primary Industries has assembled an arsenal of more than 150, including vets, support staff, laboratory technicians, and mapping and data experts, and it has enlisted the assistance of 135 Rural Lands Protection Board vets and stock inspectors and 30 private vets from the Australian Veterinarian Reserve to fight the spread of equine influenza.

The NSW Department of Primary Industries is urging people moving on and off horse properties to take all necessary precautions to avoid spreading the equine influenza virus.

"This follows advice from the Local Disease Control Centre that a farrier had recently shod a horse suffering flu-like symptoms, then gone on to shoe horses on other properties," Christie said. "We are hearing of incidents where farriers, horse dentists, and others are moving on and off horse properties without taking adequate hygiene precautions to prevent the spread of equine influenza. Although people do not suffer from equine influenza, they can transfer the infection between horses.

"The influenza virus can survive on skin, fabrics, and the surface of saddlery and horse equipment," Christie explained, "but it is easily killed by cleaning and disinfection. Personal hygiene and clean equipment are critically important so disease is not spread. This means showering or washing exposed skin with soap and water, removing and washing clothing after exposure to the horses, and cleaning and disinfecting footwear.

"Vehicles and floats (trailers) also need to be cleaned and disinfected," he added. "The virus is readily killed by common disinfectants and soaps."

Updates and further information on the EI outbreak are available on