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Sunday, August 26, 2007

Australian Farrier Blamed for Equine Influenza Outbreak and Nationwide Lockdown of Horses

It is Monday morning in Sydney and the news is out: it is believed that a farrier has been identified as the source of the country's first outbreak of Equine Influenza. The country has been in a national stoppage of horse activity, racing, breeding, and transport since Friday.

According to Australian Olympic rider Heath Ryan, quoted by the Australian Broadcast Company (ABC) and other sources, a farrier shod a Japanese Thoroughbred stallion in quarantine, then proceeded to Centennial Park in Sydney, where perhaps his tools or clothing infected the horses he shod there.

Some of those horses were on their way to a horse trial, where they in turn infected other horses...who then went home to farms strung out all over eastern Australia.

It's still a theory, at this point. It's an intriguing and sobering scenario.

Sadly, it is not known how many horses in Australia may be ill since some people do not want to report their sick horses for fear they will be forced to have them euthanized, according to one event organizer where sick horses are known to have competed. Authorities are desperately trying to track horses that may have come into contact with sick horses.

From the ABC article:

Australian equestrian coach Heath Ryan has five horses at the Warwick event and says the virus spread after a farrier shod an infected overseas stallion at a Sydney quarantine station.

"I think the farrier somehow managed to do his feet and then go on into Centennial Park and not be properly cleaned," he said.

"The Centennial horses in Sydney were shod and then went on to compete at the ranch in the Hunter Valley. And from there it's just gone in all directions."

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