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Authorities investigating one positive test for equine influenza.



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The Hon. Tony Burke MP Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry

Authorities investigating one positive test for equine influenza

25 September 2008 DAFF08/126B

Authorities are urgently investigating an initial positive test for equine influenza taken from a horse in quarantine at Eastern Creek Animal Quarantine Station.

The positive sample was re-tested last night and returned a negative reading.

Authorities believe it is likely that the earlier result was a false positive.

However, they are taking precautions and carrying out further testing in two separate laboratories for final confirmation.

Two swabs from each of the 73 other horses at Eastern Creek Quarantine Station were also taken early this morning for further testing.

All previous tests from the 73 other horses have been negative and no horses are showing any signs of equine influenza.

No horses will be leaving the Quarantine Station until final results confirm they are free of the disease.

Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Tony Burke said any potential threat to our quarantine and biosecurity system was of the highest priority.

“Quarantine arrangements for imported horses have been strengthened since the outbreak of equine influenza in 2007, including 24-hour security guards at Eastern Creek and a requirement for close monitoring and strict enforcement of quarantine procedures,” Mr Burke said.

“The devastation of last year’s horse flu outbreak is still fresh in people’s minds and the Government is taking this issue very seriously.”

High-level response procedures have been activated, including informing Chief Veterinary Officers around Australia.

Other quarantine arrangements which have been strengthened since the 2007 horse flu outbreak include the new requirement for imported horses to provide two tests in pre-export quarantine (in their country of origin) and three tests in post-arrival quarantine in Australia.

Horses are also required to undergo a strict vaccination program for equine influenza in their country of origin.

The Government received the Callinan Report into the equine influenza outbreak in April this year and accepted all 38 recommendations to strengthen quarantine measures for imported horses.