Significant equine disease investigation

Agriculture Victoria, in collaboration with The University of Melbourne and the AgriBio veterinary laboratory, have developed a new project aimed at better understanding the causes of three common syndromes in Victorian horses:

  • respiratory disease
  • neurological disease
  • abortion.

Outbreaks of respiratory disease, abortion and neurological disease will be investigated using conventional and molecular microbiological techniques to determine the infectious, or other, causes of these diseases.

This project is modelled on the successful 2016 to 2017 project in which Agriculture Victoria partnered with the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services to support veterinarians to investigate the cases of neurological disease in horses.

Private veterinarians will be encouraged to participate in the project through direct contact with University of Melbourne clinicians and/or Agriculture Victoria veterinarians. They will be supported to select appropriate cases and provide sufficient high-quality samples for analysis.

Laboratory testing will be undertaken at the Centre for Equine Infectious Disease at the University of Melbourne and the state government laboratory (AgriBio) and AAHL.

Respiratory samples will be tested for the presence of:

  • equine herpesviruses 1, 2, 4 and 5
  • equine picornaviruses (ERAV and ERBV)
  • Streptococcus equi
  • equine viral arteritis
  • equine influenza
  • Hendra.

National notifiable diseases such as equine influenza EHV-1 and Hendra will be included in the testing panel. Abortion samples will be tested for:

  • equine herpesvirus 1 and 4
  • equine viral arteritis virus
  • Chlamydia psittaci.

EHV-1 isolates will be sequenced to determine if they are the abortigenic or neuropathogenic form of the virus. Gross pathological examination will also be conducted to detect any cases of Equine Amnionitis and Foetal Loss (EAFL) or other placental pathologies.

Neurological samples will be tested for:

  • Ross River virus (RRV)
  • Murray Valley Encephalitis virus (MVEV)
  • West Nile – Kunjin virus (KUNV)
  • Hendra.

Submitters will be required to complete the project-specific RODE (Record of Disease Event) form at each initial visit.

For more information please contact:

Professor James Gilkerson
Centre for Equine Infectious Disease
University of Melbourne
Faculty for Veterinary and Agricultural Sciences
Phone: (03) 8344 9969

Karen Moore
Senior Surveillance Officer
Chief Veterinary Officer's Unit
Agriculture Victoria
Phone: (03) 5430 4525

Page last updated: 04 Mar 2024