AFRICAN HORSE SICKNESS SPREADS TO MALASIA
On 2 September 2020, the OIE reported an outbreak of AHS in five horses on a premises in Manir, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia. It was noted that on 6 August 2020 the animals’ owner notified the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) State Office that two of his five horses were limping and that he suspected them to have soft soles. The owner also complained that his two limping horses were showing difficulty in breathing. However, during the visit, the difficulty in breathing was not observed by the Veterinary Officer. A week after the first visit (17 August 2020), the owner reported to the DVS that a third horse was presenting with pyrexia and breathing difficulties. The horse was treated with dexamethasone and benzylpenicillin. Three days after the second visit, a fourth horse was reported limping with a swollen hind leg. Blood samples were taken from the four affected horses and sent to the Veterinary Research Institute (VRI) in Ipoh for analysis. The RT-PCR showed that the four horses were positive for AHS. Disease investigation was conducted on 31 August 2020 and second sampling for blood, nasal swabs and eye discharge was performed. The RT-PCR results from VRI showed all five horses were positive for AHS. Epidemiological investigation to determine the source of infection is ongoing. Control measures are in place including:
- Movement control inside the country
- Surveillance outside containment and/or protection zone
- Surveillance within containment and/or protection zone
- Vaccination prohibited
- No treatment of affected animals
NZEHA confirms that a Biosecurity (Ready and Response) Levy on all horses and germplasm imported into, or exported from, New Zealand, has now been set.
This rate will come into effect on, or after, 11 September 2020.
The levy rates are:
- $100 for each imported or exported live horse; and
- $20 for each imported or exported frozen horse embryo; and
- $10 for each imported or exported inseminating dose: and
- $1 for each imported or exported frozen horse semen straw.
For clarification or information on the levy, please contact your industry representative as shown on the Committee Contacts page.
THEILERIA TEST RESULTS ON ALL ADULT HORSES AT STUD ALL NEGATIVE
- The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) has completed testing all adult horses considered at risk of contracting Theileria equi infection through association with an infected imported thoroughbred mare.
- All 263 tests have returned negative results.
- The horse concerned was imported to New Zealand for breeding purposes in February 2019 and was found to be infected withTheileria equi as part of standard export certification prior to onward shipment to Australia. The horse has not displayed any signs of illness in its time here.
- Ministry scientists worked with the stud involved to quarantine the horse and immediately test all adult horses that were either paddock mates of the infected horse or had grazed the same pasture as the animal. These 22 animals all tested negative for Theileria equi.
- Subsequent testing was carried out on 241 other horses at the stud to provide confidence that the operation is free of the organism, and that there has been no transmission of it within the farm.
- Theileria equi is an organism that can cause the blood condition Piroplasmosis which causes anaemia and poor condition. It is primarily spread from horse to horse by ticks. It is not infectious directly between horses, and the ticks that are known to transmit the disease are not a species present in New Zealand.
- The situation temporarily halted the export of some horses from New Zealand to Australia as Australian importing requirements include certification from the New Zealand government that the entire country is free of Theileria equi.
- Exports have resumed under an interim arrangement and MPI continues to work with Australian authorities.
- Negotiations are also underway with other importing countries and also making good progress.
- At the time of its import to New Zealand, the horse met all our requirements including testing negative for Theileria equi within the required 21 days before its shipment. It had also undergone full quarantine in the UK before export and in New Zealand on arrival.
POSITIVE PIROPLASMOSIS CONFIRMED
As reported below, there has been a suspected case of Theileria equi at Cambridge Stud. CEO of Cambridge Stud released a statement which you can read here. We now have confirmation that this test has been returned as positive.
The NZTBA and NZEHA commends Cambridge Stud for their transparency and full co-operation, this is applauded by MPI in dealing with this incident.
There has never been a confirmed case of Theileria equi in New Zealand. Biosecurity New Zealand and MPI are carrying out a full investigation to confirm this is an isolated case, and as of this morning 22 May extensive testing of in-contact animals has commenced to allow informed decisions to be made.
Some countries that import horses from New Zealand, including Australia, require certification that New Zealand is free of Theileria equi. This positive test result means that MPI cannot currently provide that assurance. For this reason a shipment of horses to Australia that was scheduled for the evening of 19 May was put on hold and another shipment scheduled for today is also delayed.
MPI’s market access specialists and live animal exports team have been working closely with Australian authorities today to agree alternative assurances to allow exports to continue. Good progress is being made on the development of a testing regime to support this.
With confirmation of this positive result, the NZ Equine Health Association will now work closely with Biosecurity New Zealand on any management approach.
The New Zealand equine industry has signed a Government Industry Agreement (GIA) for Biosecurity readiness and response.
The Biosecurity Act 1993 was amended in 2012 to include a framework that enables government and industry to work together in partnership through GIA to achieve the best possible outcomes from readiness or response activities by:
- Making joint decisions on biosecurity activities
- Jointly funding the costs of the activities in shares that take into account the public benefits and industry benefits that the activities deliver
Mare for Export tests positive for Piroplasmosis
A suspect positive test result for the disease Theileria equi was returned as part of standard export certification testing of a mare prior to shipment from New Zealand. Further blood tests have been taken from the mare and we expect confirmation of whether the horse is negative or positive for the disease by the end of this week. There has not been a case of Theileria equi in New Zealand before. Biosecurity New Zealand and the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) will continue to work with international partners to understand and investigate this suspect case.
The horse had been tested by European laboratories in the months before it left the UK. It tested negative for Theileria equi within the required 21 days before its import to New Zealand early last year for breeding. Under international protocols, testing from certified laboratories is part of the horse importation process. Part of that importation process also requires that the horse is treated for ticks. Prior to export, the horse was quarantined in isolation for three weeks and underwent examinations. On arrival in New Zealand, the horse was in post-arrival quarantine and inspected by an equine veterinarian. An MPI vet checks arriving horses on arrival at the airport, at the quarantine location within 24 hours of arrival, around the middle of quarantine and then prior to release.
Theileria equi is a blood disease that causes anaemia and is spread from animal to animal by ticks. It is not infectious directly between horses. The ticks that are known to transmit the disease are a species not present in New Zealand. Some countries, including Australia, that import horses from New Zealand require certification that New Zealand is free of Theileria equi. This current suspect test result has meant that MPI cannot currently provide that assurance of country-freedom status.
A shipment of horses to Australia that was scheduled for the evening of 19 May was put on hold and another shipment scheduled for tomorrow (22 May) may also need to be held. The Ministry’s market access specialists are working with Australian authorities to explore alternative assurance options to allow exports to continue.MPI is aware this situation may cause some concern to those in the equine sector and work is underway to resolve things as quickly as possible to ensure ongoing horse exports are not interrupted.
As at Friday morning 22 May the issue remains an investigation being led by MPI. Further testing on in contact animals has commenced and continues today to better inform decisions that will be required if the mare is a true positive.
The New Zealand equine industry has signed a Government Industry Agreement for Biosecurity readiness and response with government. If the impending test results are positive then any response to the presence of T Equi will be then jointly lead by the equine industry, via the New Zealand Equine Health Association and the Ministry for Primary Industries.
The New Zealand Equine Health Association is chaired by Dr Ivan Bridge (027 223 3909), the NZVA representative to the NZEHA. Justine Sclater, who represents the NZ Thoroughbred Breeders Association is coordinating communications with the Thoroughbred breeding sector. Queries can also be made to Dr Trish Pearce or the respective industry representative whose details are all available at https://nzeha.com/committee-contacts/
Progress update on the New Zealand Equine Health Association’s application for a Biosecurity Levy.
In early 2019 New Zealand Equine Health Association (NZEHA) commenced its consultation with the equine community on the implementation of an equine biosecurity levy using the mechanism described in section 100 of the Biosecurity Act 1993. The feedback from the consultation received from members of the New Zealand equine community was reviewed and considered by the NZEHA and then summarized and forwarded to the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) who are charged with progressing the application. Despite being proposed as a collection agency in the consultation documents, MPI identified challenges to them in their role as a collection agency and highlighted that their costs in collection of the levy might be considerable and have recommended that NZEHA set up a system to enable the collection of the levy money directly.
With the equine sectors permission, MPI is happy to furnish to NZEHA on a monthly basis: the quantity of germplasm and horses crossing the border and the shipping agent responsible for the import or export. MPI require NZEHA to re-consult on this point as they view the sharing of this information as a possible breach of privacy to equine owners unless the sector affirms that they are happy that this information is shared. Hence NZEHA is asking for feedback from the equine sector on the acceptability of MPI sharing information with NZEHA on who is importing and exporting horses and germplasm to facilitate the collection of the biosecurity levy.
As was laid out in the original consultation undertaken in 2019, to further save on levy collection costs, the shipping agent may collect the levy from the owner of the horse or germplasm and pay it on their behalf when invoiced by NZEHA. Feedback from all shipping agents or owners who ship equines and equine germplasm on their own account is therefore again sought on this point. The main benefit of this approach is that collection costs can be minimized and not accrue unnecessary extra invoicing costs onto the import/export process.
The original consultation documents (https://nzeha.files.wordpress.com/2019/04/draft-levy-applicationnzeha09042019.pdf.) discuss the purpose of the levy how the quantum of the levy is set each year and the maximum that may be set. The NZEHA committee comprises representatives from each equine sector who are cognizant of their sector views and challenges and are charged with ensuring the committee are informed and can ensure the levy rate set is appropriate and addresses inequities where possible.
Once again NZEHA invite you to tell us your view and specifically give us feedback on the following two points:
- Do you support NZEHA’s attempt to limit collection costs?
- Can MPI share information on who is importing and exporting equines and equine germplasm with NZEHA to enable them to invoice the levy as appropriate?
To find out more or give us your view either email your equine industry representative or the Executive Advisor to the NZEHA https://nzeha.com/committee-contacts/ or leave a reply on our Objectives page.
Outbreak of African Horsesickness in Thailand highlights the importance of rigorous biosecurity prevention and response strategies.
According to a report which appeared in “Science” on the 16th April, Thailand’s Department of Livestock Development has reported more than 192 horse deaths across 37 racing, sports, and leisure riding farms as a result of an outbreak of African Horsesickness. It is suspected that the disease was introduced through the importation of Zebra.
According to the report, Zebras do not have to undergo the same strict biosecurity requirements that horses must when imported into Thailand. This emphasises the importance of comprehensive biosecurity strategies to provide effective protection against the incursion of exotic diseases.
The report can be found here: https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2020/04/thailand-scrambles-contain-major-outbreak-horse-killing-virus?fbclid=IwAR1TE6XD3EE0oyPAF96rW1IrpSxHpmI16C1chX5Mz4iI669iXp49o8t878k
Have your say about regulations for surgical procedures on animals
New Zealanders have a chance to say what they think about the rules for surgical procedures on animals.
The Ministry for Primary Industries is proposing regulations to clarify the rules for significant surgical procedures on a wide range of animals.
Deputy director general for regulation and assurance, Bryan Wilson, says it’s essential that procedures on animals be carried out by the right people with the right skills and care, to ensure the well-being of animals.
“We are proposing clearer rules about who can carry out certain procedures on animals and how they must be done.
“We want to hear from people who work with and care for animals, and anyone else who is interested in animal welfare regulations.”
Public consultation opens today on proposed regulations under the Animal Welfare Act 1999. Submissions close on Wednesday 24 July 2019. There will also be 6 public meetings around the country in late June and early July.
“Animal welfare matters. It’s important to animals, it’s important to people and it’s important to New Zealand,” Mr Wilson says.
“The proposed rules mostly allow competent people to continue doing routine procedures on animals. Some proposals raise the standard.”
Submissions close Wednesday 24 July
Biosecurity Levy: Consultation extended to 31 July 2019.
The deadline for submitting feedback on the proposed Biosecurity levy has now been extended to 31 July 2019. The deadline has been moved to ensure that the information about the levy can be distributed as widely as possible. This will also allow more time for anybody who would like to make a submission to get it to NZEHA before the closing date.
HENDRA VIRUS CASE IN AUSTRALIA
On 12 June 2019, the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has informed veterinarians around the state of a confirmed case of Hendra virus in an unvaccinated 25-year-old mare near Australia’s horse capital of Scone. The Scone horse developed neurological signs on Friday, 7 June 2019 and was euthanased. It is understood a district vet from the Hunter Local Lands Services took samples from the property and horse on Sunday, 9 June 2019. The Hendra virus infection was confirmed by NSW DPI on Wednesday 12 June 2019. NSW Health has been called in to manage and monitor people and other horses exposed to the affected animal. The DPI will trace the movement of horses and a biosecurity direction is in place on the property where the affected horse was located. It will control movement of people and horses on and off the property.
Biosecurity Levy: Consultation – have your say before
May 31st 31 July
Consultation with the New Zealand Equine industry is open until the 31 May 2019 for feedback on the proposal for a Biosecurity Levy to allow the sector to meet readiness and response costs to any equine exotic disease under the Government Industry Agreement (GIA).
Equine Influenza outbreak in UK
The New Zealand Equine Health Association (NZEHA) is aware of a cessation of racing in the UK due to a number of outbreaks of Equine influenza. Other countries are likewise reporting outbreaks. This is perhaps not unexpected as Equine Influenza is endemic in all countries except Australia, New Zealand and Iceland. Vaccines are used to control the disease in endemic countries but unless at least 90% of the population is regularly vaccinated and no new strains are introduced then Equine Influenza will still circulate in the unvaccinated horses. As with all the flu viruses the vaccine must contain the same strain as the circulating virus as protection is relatively short lived and very strain specific.
The import health testing and requirements already in place for New Zealand are designed to manage the risk of entry of Equine influenza, and many other organisms exotic to the New Zealand horse population. Currently when horses from Equine Influenza endemic countries such as the UK, EU and North America enter New Zealand they must have completed three weeks pre export isolation and two weeks of post arrival quarantine before release into the New Zealand population. During these quarantine periods the horse is tested on three separate occasions using the most accurate test currently available looking for evidence of most strains of the virus. If any horse on the consignment tests positive no horse in the consignment can be released without further quarantine. A number of other checks are in place such as daily temperature checks, vaccination history verification and veterinary inspections.
In addition the NZEHA and its Government Industry Association partner the Ministry for Primary Industries focus effort at monitoring the equine diseases circulating in New Zealand. And continually updates its plans and strategies for dealing with new disease incursions.
The Ministry for Primary Industries is currently updating the Import Health Standard for importation of horses into New Zealand and the NZEHA is working closely with them to ensure we manage the complex tangle of disease risks that arise when we import horses, semen and embryos into New Zealand.
Links to information on the latest UK equine influenza (EI) situation are included below.
New Zealand declares freedom from Equine Viral Arteritis
Eradicating a disease is no easy feat but the New Zealand equine community has completed a task that is rarely achieved.
After introduction of the equine viral arteritis virus in horses imported from North America in 1988 many were uncertain as to what the future might hold in terms of how the disease might move through the New Zealand horse population. The virus was causing variable levels of disease in horse populations around the world from little illness to more severe respiratory disease and abortions. In the absence of any certainty of what would happen in New Zealand the Equine Industry and MAF worked to manage the spread of disease in New Zealand.
The disease is primarily spread by infected stallions at breeding. A survey of all breeding stallions was completed by 1990 and controls were placed on the use of those stallions found to be infected.
Thirty five years after the introduction of the virus and numerous hurdles later, New Zealand is about to declare to the international equine community that the virus has been eradicated from our shores! The declaration of freedom from disease is expected be published by the international organisation for animal health – the OIE- in the next month.
In recognition of the efforts of the many who have kept the goal of equine disease control in their field of vision the New Zealand Equine Health Association and Ministry for Primary Industries are joining together to celebrate the achievement. Watch this site for more news!