Interim emergency import measures for horses entering New Zealand

6 September 2007

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) has introduced interim emergency import requirements for horses from countries with endemic equine influenza, to further reduce the risk of the virus entering New Zealand.

MAF BNZ Director Post Border, Peter Thomson said the introduction of pre and post export testing measures will further protect the horse industry.

"New Zealand is free of equine influenza and has never had an outbreak of the disease. Therefore, the detection of the virus in vaccinated horses, that may not display symptoms, is extremely important to prevent the disease being introduced here. The introduction of additional testing will confirm whether imported horses are free of virus."

Horses entering New Zealand from countries with endemic equine influenza will be required to be tested for the virus prior to export and again in post arrival quarantine.

Increased hygiene measures have also been introduced for fresh horse semen imports from Australia. As a precaution, outer coolant containers carrying the semen can no longer be released into New Zealand. Semen itself does not pose a known risk, but the containers carrying it could. Semen will now be transferred to New Zealand coolant containers at the border.

The suspension of horse imports from Australia remains in place until further notice.

Increased passenger risk profiling at airports and the redirection of all horse equipment from Australia to treatment facilities for disinfection continues. Although the risk of passengers bringing the virus into New Zealand on clothing is low, inspectors will question anyone who has visited an infected area or had contact with horses in Australia, and may search their luggage to check whether clothing and footwear is clean.

MAFBNZ is asking horse owners to remain vigilant for signs of the disease. Anyone who suspects their horse may be showing symptoms of equine influenza should isolate the horse from other animals and contact their vet immediately or phone the MAFBNZ emergency hotline 0800 80 99 66.

Ends

Media contact:

Helen Keyes
Acting Manager, MAFBNZ Communications
04 894 0161 or 029 894 0161
helen.keyes@maf.govt.nz

To report an exotic pest or disease call the MAF Biosecurity hotline on 0800 80 99 66

Contact MPI

for general enquiries phone

0800 00 83 33