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Blow for Australia's top horse studs.

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DAFF07/124PM - 22 August 2007

Blow for Australia’s top horse studs

One horse currently being held in quarantine at Eastern Creek in NSW is showing clinical signs consistent with equine influenza (EI) and blood tests indicate a strong suspicion of a recently acquired infection.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Peter McGauran, said today that as a result of this, all 52 horses at the Eastern Creek facility would remain in quarantine for a period of 30 days after it could be proven all horses at the site were free of EI.

“All 27 horses in a similar facility at Spotswood, Victoria, will remain in quarantine for the same period of time because some of the horses in Spotswood travelled to Australia with the horses in Eastern Creek,” Mr McGauran said.

“Some of Australia’s best known and most valuable stallions are amongst these horses. The extended quarantining of a number of Australia’s top stallions will have a serious effect on the horse breeding industry as the breeding season was due to start on 1 September. A number of these stallions have been in the northern hemisphere servicing mares.

“Some of these stallions attract more than $100,000 per service and given they can service up to five mares a day, it will be a heavy financial loss for their studs.

“Regrettably, there is no way to facilitate their release from quarantine, which may stretch beyond the predicted 30 days if another horse displays symptoms consistent with EI. In other words, the 30 extra days in quarantine commences from the time any new horse shows EI symptoms.

“Testing of all horses will continue over the next few days to confirm the certain presence of EI, but authorities are operating on the basis that it is extremely likely to be present at this time.

“It is likely that the infection has originated from another horse in quarantine that has contracted the disease but has not shown any clinical signs of it.

“While it’s too early to be certain, we suspect this to be one of the horses from Japan, given there has been an outbreak of EI in that country.

“There are other horses due to arrive in Australia and I have asked the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service to explore all avenues for temporary quarantine facilities to allow these horses to arrive in Australia as speedily as possible.

“EI is an extremely serious matter and I will not take any risks with this disease getting into Australia.” Further media inquiries:

Minister McGauran's office: Ben Houston 02 6277 7520