Freedom from Equine Influenza (EI)
On 30 June 2008, Australia officially declared itself free of Equine Influenza.
In late December 2008 supporting documentary evidence was submitted to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) to achieve international recognition of freedom.
Australia is the only country in the world to have eradicated EI and proved scientifically that the virus is absent.
This means that Victoria has completely returned to the status we enjoyed prior to the Australian EI outbreak in August 2007.
(a) There is a return to business as usual inside Australia, with free movement of horses and the holding of events without any restriction.
(b) International trade with respect to Australian horses has returned to normal.
Although Australia is EI free, there are other contagious diseases of concern to the horse industry e.g. strangles, which are notifiable diseases. Owners concerned about the health of their horses should contact their local vet in the first instance. If a notifiable disease is suspected they should also contact their local Department of Economic Development, Jobs, Transport and Resources (DEDJTR) via local offices or phone the 24 hour Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.
What is EI?
EI is an exotic disease to Australia caused by a highly contagious virus that can be spread horse to horse or by humans on their skin, clothes and riding equipment. The main clinical signs of EI are usually a sudden increase in temperature (to between 39°C and 41°C); a deep, dry, hacking cough; and a watery nasal discharge, which may later contain pus. Other signs can include depression, loss of appetite, laboured breathing, and muscle pain and stiffness.
Affected horses, especially performance horses, can take weeks to recover. Donkeys may be more severely affected than horses. Once a horse has recovered and sufficient time (i.e. 30 days) has elapsed the horse poses no risk to other horses.