Australian Flu Cases Contained to Movement-Restricted Areas

Equine influenza has been contained to the equine movement-restricted areas of New South Wales and Queensland.

The president of Equine Veterinarians Australia painted a picture of cautious optimism today at the British Equine Veterinary Association (BEVA) Congress in Edinburgh, Scotland, that equine influenza–even while it continues to be detected on new premises–appears to have been contained to the equine movement-restricted areas of New South Wales (NSW) and Queensland. James Gilkerson, BVSc, BSc(Vet) Hons, PhD, also told The Horse that the outbreak could likely have long-term negative effects on Australia’s horse industry, and he hopes the government is able to support the horsemen through this time of hardship.

Gilkerson, who is also the head of the infectious disease laboratory and senior lecturer in veterinary microbiology at the University of Melbourne, expressed to delegates his hopes that continued quarantine vigilance and possible vaccination measures will prevent the virus from spreading to more of the area’s dense equine population.

According to the NSW Department of Primary Industries, as of yesterday evening (Sept. 14) there were 841 infected properties with a total of 8,353 horses; 357 are considered "dangerous contact properties" with 2,731 horses; and 257 suspect properties contain 1,809 horses. "New infections have shown up in places that were expected, either found through tracing or caused by lateral spread to nearby properties," the NSW report stated.

Many of the delegates at the BEVA Congress this week have approached Gilkerson and asked about the outbreak situation. Today during a session on respiratory diseases, he gave a short review of the outbreak to delegates, reminding them that less that 5% of the estimated 170,000 horses in NSW have tested positive for

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Written by:

Stephanie L. Church, Editorial Director, grew up riding and caring for her family’s horses in Central Virginia and received a B.A. in journalism and equestrian studies from Averett University. She joined The Horse in 1999 and has led the editorial team since 2010. A 4-H and Pony Club graduate, she enjoys dressage, eventing, and trail riding with her former graded-stakes-winning Thoroughbred gelding, It Happened Again (“Happy”). Stephanie and Happy are based in Lexington, Kentucky.

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