British Horseracing Authority Statement – Equine Influenza in Australia
Equine Influenza was confirmed in horses at Eastern Creek Quarantine Station, Sydney, New South Wales (NSW) on 20th August. There are currently 45 premises that have been declared infected, 4 of which are in Queensland, with the remainder in NSW. More than 90 premises have also been traced and are awaiting assessment. It has also been announced today that Sydney’s spring racing carnival has been called off.
Prior to this outbreak, horses in Australia had remained free of the disease through the controlling of its potential entry via rigorous quarantine programs, and are therefore generally not vaccinated against it. As a result, the population is largely susceptible to the virus; this is why immediate movement restrictions were introduced, and remain in place at least until Friday 31st August.
The current primary effect of the outbreak on the British Racing and Breeding industries stems from this, with entry into the Quarantine Station in NSW blocked, and all planned movement of horses into NSW halted.
All British racehorses are required to be vaccinated against Equine Influenza, which means that in the event of cases of infection with the virus, both the severity and spread of the disease would be minimal.
There is round the clock activity in Australia to trace all potentially infected horses and identify the exact strain of the virus as quickly as possible. Once the exact strain is known, a proper assessment of the possible effect of this outbreak on British horses entering, and more significantly returning from, Australia can be made.
As was evidenced in 2003 with the last outbreak involving a number of horses in training, the British Horseracing Authority does not anticipate a requirement for restrictions within Great Britain in relation to this virus.
The British Horseracing Authority is in constant communication with experts in Equine Influenza at the Animal Health Trust and colleagues in Australia and will continue to relay any relevant information to the British Racing and Breeding industries.
For further information please contact Communications Manager Will Lambe on 020 7152 0028 or 07816 914409 or Veterinary Surveillance and Research Manager Lynn Hillyer on 07764 769890.