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9 August 1999
All the horses tested for the exotic horse disease equine infectious anaemia (EIA) in
New Zealand have been cleared.
EIA is an infectious disease of horses, with no known treatment, caused by a virus
spread by biting flies and dirty needles. The disease is not present in New Zealand's
A brood mare imported from New South Wales, Australia to New Zealand in early June
tested positive to the disease was destroyed.
Trace-back established that eleven horses had had direct or indirect contact with the
imported mare. The in-contact horses were on four separate properties due to movement of
horses that came over in the original consignment.
Movement restrictions were imposed on all four properties, and the in-contact horses
were isolated and received daily treatment with insecticide sprays to reduce the risk of
transmission. Insect trapping early in the isolation period indicated stable fly, the only
likely vector present in New Zealand, was present, but in very low numbers.
All isolated horses were tested at the start of the isolation period, after 30 days,
and after 60 days, with all negative results. Although isolation was originally intended
to run for 45 days, this period was extended to 60 days on the advice of experts in order
to provide an appropriately conservative level of confidence.
The negative results mean all restrictions on in-contact horses and their premises have
been removed. Stamping out has been completed, and New Zealand is once again considered
free from EIA.
The infected brood mare was one of a six imported from New South Wales on 24 May 1999.
The last case of EIA in New South Wales was in 1986. Queensland is the only part of
Australia known to have had EIA in recent times.
MAF requires pre-export testing of horses for EIA prior to all imports. The Australian
Quarantine Inspection Service (AQIS) conducted the testing, and certified that the brood
mare in question was negative.
Tests results for another horse in the same consignment were pending and not available
at the time of export. MAF allowed that horse to be imported, but quarantined it on
arrival in New Zealand, pending results from Australia. AQIS reported to MAF that one
positive and one negative result had been obtained from this horse. MAF tested the horse
and found it to be negative for EIA. Following this result the horse was released from the
quarantine on 3 June.
In the evening of 3 June 1999, AQIS reported to MAF that a labelling mix up in the
Australian laboratory had occurred, and that another horse travelling in the same
consignment as the quarantined horse was suspected to be EIA positive. As soon as this
information was received, MAF traced the horse - the infected brood mare - and issued a
Restricted Place notice on the property where it was grazing in an isolation paddock on 4
Media inquiries to:
Dr Barry O'Neil, Director of Animal Biosecurity, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (04) 474 4100
Matthew Stone, National Adviser, International Trade, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (04) 474 4100
Debbie Gee, Director, Corporate Communications, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (04) 474 4258