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AUSTRALIAN EI OUTBREAK: Latest ICC Report

As a member of the International Breeders' Meeting, the NZTBA receives regular reports from the International Collating Centre (ICC), which monitors equine disease outbreaks around the world. These reports are distributed by the UK Animal Health Trust's Information Exchange on Infectious Equine Disease. The following is the August report received by the ICC from Australia:

1. Key Points
Equine Influenza (EI) was first detected at Eastern Creek Quarantine Station (ECQS), Sydney, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, on 17 August 2007. Sick horses were seen on 22 August 2007 at Centennial Park Equestrian Centre (CPEC) in Sydney.

There are currently 45 infected premises (IPs) in Australia; four of these are in Queensland (Qld) and the remainder in NSW. More than 80 premises have been traced and assessed (e.g. awaiting laboratory results) or are waiting to be assessed. Confirmed cases remain confined to NSW and Qld.

A single case in a race horse in a stable at Randwick racecourse in Sydney has tested positive. Samples are being re-tested at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) as a matter priority. Exposure to other racehorses is very likely to have occurred. More cases may be expected in Randwick stables in the future.

At this stage it is not possible to identify the index case.

There is an agreed national ban on horse movements in place till 1 pm Friday 31 August. Risk based guidelines have been developed for the issuing of permits to move equines in un-infected jurisdictions.

It is encouraging that almost all IPs have been detected on the basis of tracing information. Recently, there has been evidence of lateral spread between farms in some peri-urban areas. Extension efforts to encourage high levels of bio-security are continuing.

2. Current Situation
Laboratory results from AAHL have shown the virus from the first two IPs, multiple other locations in NSW, and from Warwick, Qld, to be H3 Equine Influenza.

New South Wales
IPs have been confirmed in the following locations: Centennial Park, Moree, Parkes Showground, Berry, Wilberforce, Eastern Creek, Tamworth, Cattai, Ourimbah, Mt Hunter, Kulnura, Aberdeen, Moonbi, Muswellbrook, Maitland, Redfern, Lake Macquarie and near Newcastle.

Eastern Creek Quarantine Station
All horses are being monitored. On 29 August a horse under observation was detected with an elevated temperature. Diagnostic samples from this horse have been sent to AAHL.

NSW has declared an air exclusion zone for one nautical mile around and for 700 feet above the ECQS facility.

Queensland
More than 50% of horses at the IP at Warwick are showing clinical signs. IPs are also located at Brisbane (Kenmore), Minden (near Gatton) and Rosewood (near Brisbane).

Restricted areas have been, or are being declared around the four IPs. Investigation of reportedly sick horses associated with IPs is a priority.

Qld has tested a consignment of NSW horses at Helidon that arrived from Maitland over the weekend, with negative results. Their quarantine period is over with no disease, but they remain contained due to the standstill order.

Other jurisdictions
All traces notified by NSW and Queensland have also been followed up. Reported cases of equine respiratory disease have been investigated with negative findings to date.

3. Response
A Local Disease Control Centre (LDCC) has been established at the NSW DPI's Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI) at Menangle via Camden just south of Sydney. Queensland has established a local disease control centre (LDCC) at Toowoomba and a State Disease Central Headquarters (SDCHQ) in Brisbane.

Ten km restricted areas have been declared around each of the IPs. No movement of horses is permitted within, into or out of these areas.

Further tracing of horse movements onto and off IPs is being urgently undertaken. All tracing cases are being investigated and inspected according to a formal protocol.

The public is being asked to report all horses with a fever and respiratory signs to the LDCC for follow up.

4. Further information
Further information is available on www.outbreak.gov.au.

NB: This report is base on information from state agencies at the time, and may not reflect the current situation, given the rate at which events are unfolding.

- International Collating Centre