Sudden horse death investigations

2 August 2023

Investigation concludes

Agriculture Victoria has confirmed that recent sudden multiple horse deaths are not linked or the result of an infectious disease.

Sample testing and necropsies were conducted where possible on deceased animals and found nothing unusual or unexpected as contributing causes.

A number of separate diagnoses have been made including intestinal issues in one instance, while there is a possibility of toxic plants present in another.

In some instances it was not possible to determine a clear cause due to a lack of available suitable samples.

The investigation involved a total of 17 horses that died on six separate properties where multiple deaths were reported.

Negative tests were returned for a wide variety  of transmissible diseases such as Hendra virus and equine influenza.

We would like to thank the horse industry, private veterinarians, other experts and horse owners for their assistance during this investigation.

Next steps

As there are no further concerns about the investigation’s findings, regular arrangements for reporting illness or deaths in horses will be reinstated.

  • Private veterinarians must  be the first point of contact as your horse’s primary health advisor – they are the ones with specific knowledge about your individual situation and best placed to provide assistance and also where to find other assistance if required. .
  • Agriculture Victoria can support private veterinarians via the Significant Disease Investigation (SDI) program if eligible.

All horse owners should take regular steps towards ensuring the best health of their horses and tailored to the season, including good parasite management and weed control, and providing quality feed and water.

Further information:

Property Identification Codes

Horse owners should register their horse with a Property Identification Code (PIC). It is an important communication and traceability tool used during animal health incidents.

A PIC enables Agriculture Victoria to contact horse owners if required. It’s free, quick and can be done here.


Please be mindful of what you share online, as posting misinformation can cause unnecessary alarm to horse owners.

Property identification code

Register your property.

Get a PIC
Page last updated: 02 Aug 2023