Australia fights likely horse-flu outbreak

Eighty local and foreign horses quarantined in Australia were being monitored Friday for the highly contagious equine influenza viral disease.

Australia fights likely horse-flu outbreak
Eighty local and foreign horses quarantined in Australia were being monitored Friday for the highly contagious equine influenza viral disease.

"We are taking no chances - an iron curtain has fallen," Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran said. "No horse will be leaving the quarantine premises until we are completely and absolutely beyond any shadow of a doubt certain that there's no risk of contamination."

The minister said a blood test was yet to confirm that a stallion in Sydney had the non-lethal equine flu but said that "it is very likely to be equine influenza."

The horses being held are among the world's most valuable. They are in Australia to service mares or returning to Australia after breeding sessions abroad. Australia has so far been free of the virus.

"The extended quarantining of a number of Australia's top stallions will have a serious effect on the horse-breeding industry," McGauran said. "Some of Australia's best-known and most valuable stallions are amongst these horses."

Japan is in the throes of an outbreak of horse flu. There is a ban on race meetings and a ban on moving horses to prevent the virus spreading. So far 29 cases have been reported.

"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," McGauran said. "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 (equine flu) in that country."

The horses in quarantine include some of the world's top stallions. They move between the northern and southern hemispheres to service mares during the different breeding seasons.

Fifteen horses stabled at Sydney's Centennial Park have been found to have respiratory problems, putting the weekend race meeting at nearby Royal Randwick in jeopardy. Around 700 horses are stabled at or close to Randwick racecourse.

DPA
Last Mod: 24 Ağustos 2007, 12:46
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