NSW Winning the War against Horse Flu - Macdonald 2/11/07

NSW Minister for Primary Industries

The NSW Government's campaign to eradicate Horse Flu turned a corner with the equine influenza (EI) status of a large part of NSW moving from high risk to lower risk, Minister for Primary Industries Ian Macdonald, said on Friday.

Minister Macdonald said the second phase of the NSW Government's plan to defeat the exotic disease which escaped from Federal quarantine was now underway.

"The Government has spent about $19 million so far on its effort to eradicate EI from NSW, we are running within the estimated budget and there is no doubt we have reached major milestones," Minister Macdonald said.

"Infection in NSW peaked on 26 September and since then has been steadily declining.

"And today almost half of the NSW Red Zone - about 4.5 million hectares - will be moved to Amber Zone status

"All or parts of the Coonamble, Moree Plains, Gwydir, Coonabarabran, Coolah and Dunedoo districts have now been changed to Amber.

"Testing has provided us with confidence that these areas are free from disease and can now be moved back to Amber Zone status.

"This is great news for the thousands of horse owners in these regions. Today's changes put them one step closer to becoming an EI Protection Green Zone and testing will continue to achieve proof-of-freedom in the future.

Minster Macdonald said Phase Two of the EI Protection Plan includes:

• Continued revision of zoning boundaries;
• Second round vaccinations targeting 18,000 plus animals;
• Exhaustive proof-of-freedom testing along the north coast to ultimately move 15 Local Government Areas from Amber to Green;
• Further testing in other Amber Zones to move areas to EI Protected Green;
• Vaccination of priority uninfected horses in the Purple Zone;
• Continued public awareness and education on EI and the importance of biosecurity;
• Whole of NSW government response through the State Disaster Plan;
• Compliance monitoring to ensure horse owners are following zoning rules; and
• Extension of the Permit and Travelling Horse Statement systems.

"I want to make it absolutely clear that this is the single largest advance made on beating this disease since vaccine was introduced and the Government implemented its four-colour EI Protection Plan system zoning on 23 September," Minister Macdonald said.

"And there is further good news with the NSW DPI currently conducting exhaustive testing at Wauchope, Berry, Walcha and Moree to resolve the status of infected properties and move further areas from Red to Amber Zone status."

Minister Macdonald said NSW was working with interstate and Commonwealth counterparts as well as industry and is confident the approach was working.

"Phase Two of the EI Protection Plan efforts will now focus on proof-of-freedom testing and completion of second round horse flu vaccinations," Minister Macdonald said.

"Our intention has always been to contain the infection and ultimately eradicate it completely. This goal is reflected in our plan"

Minister Macdonald will meet with State and Federal counterparts later today where he will officially unveil Phase Two of the NSW EI Protection Plan.

The new NSW EI Protection Plan zoning breakdown is:

60% of NSW is Protected Green Zone;
29% is Amber;
8% is Red; and
3% is Purple.

- Rob Burnet - Thoroughbred News


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