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Main EI virus carriers have been people

As has been suspected by industry officials the movement of people within the horse industry had become a key factor in the spread of equine influenza (EI), a leading NSW government veterinary officer said on Monday.

"The horse stand still has worked very, very well," NSW Department of Primary Industries chief vet Bruce Christie said.

"[With] this concern about people movement, bio-security, making sure people change their clothes, washing their hair … it's become more and more obvious that it's so important and so difficult to get individuals to recognise that."

Christie said the rampant nature of the disease had surprised his DPI colleagues.

"It has been a lot more contagious, I think, than we expected," he conceded.

He said new cases of EI were still being confirmed at Randwick racecourse last week, meaning the 700 horse population stabled there would remain in quarantine.

"[It's] roughly a month after the last horse has shown clinical signs that we can have movement," he said.

He said horses stabled at Centennial Park, the first area outside of Eastern Creek to be hit with EI, had almost fully recovered.

Christie said it was unlikely an initial vaccination program would include thoroughbreds stabled at Warwick Farm.

"The experience from other locations, and we are certainly keeping an open mind on this, is that once this virus is in it rips through [stables] very quickly," he said.

He said the timeframe for the vaccination to take hold meant that it would not be practical to vaccinate the Warwick Farm horse population.

"By the time this vaccination actually kicks in, most of the Warwick Farm horses, I would expect, would be infected," he said.



- NSW Dept of Primary Industries