The Australian horse industry has emerged from its darkest era with an announcement, from the New South Wales Government, that the devastating equine influenza (EI) outbreak has been eradicated.
Since August of last year there has been a state-wide lockdown preventing all horse movements and forcing the cancellation of every horse event in NSW. The most heavily infected zone covered the area around Sydney and the Hunter Valley and the Illawarra region.
Ian Macdonald, NSW Minister for Primary Industries announced:
“More than 47,000 horses on 6,000 properties have now recovered from EI infection and no longer carry the disease. NSW conducted a massive campaign on a scale never before seen in Australia, using the latest vaccine and laboratory testing technologies.”
As of today, 28 February, all permit and testing requirements for moving horses within the State have been lifted. The only remaining precautionary requirements to move a horse are prior notification with a Travelling Horse Statement and event registration.
This announcement has come at a good time for the NSW racing industry with important race meetings approaching. Two questions remain unanswered and subject to inquiry: who will be responsible for paying for the crisis and just how the virus infiltrated the horse population in NSW quite so aggressively.