Celebration of a remarkable accomplishment
The equine industry, veterinary profession and the Ministry for Primary Industries gathered in Parliament buildings in December of 2014 to celebrate the eradication of Equine Viral Arteritis from New Zealand. Minister Ian McKelvie welcomed an eclectic cross section of MPs, equine industry participants, veterinarians, virologists, epidemiologists and Ministry officials and congratulated them on their perseverence, patience and cooperation to achieve their goal. Four of the many key contributors were asked to recount a small part of the history of the eradication effort. Dr Joanna McKenzie, once National Manager for Surveillance in MAF, Dr John O’Flaherty the longstanding technical advisor for the Control Scheme and the NZ Equine Health Association, Dr Gary Horner, virologist and veterinary manager in MAF through the 1990s and Wayne Reid the EVA scheme Coordinator each obligued, giving colourful accounts of the challenges faced. Congratulations were received from as far afeild as Kentucky. In a letter received after the event from Dr Peter Timoney of the Gluck Equine Research Cetnre, Peter wrote, “the success of the program was all the more noteworthy in that New Zealand is the only country to date that I am aware of that has achieved eradication of this disease… the equine industry, veterinary profession and New Zealand MAF should take justifiable pride in this remakable accomplishment.”
Alhough the last stallion known to be ctively shedding the equine viral artertis virus died in 2012 New Zealand had to fulfil a range of stringent criteria as described by the OIE before it could declare itself to be free. The self declaration document included the history of the introduction and disease in New Zealand, a description of the control measures and data from monitoring and surveillance activities. Data from over 7000 tests carried out over a seven year old period was analysed and reported upon in peer reviewed scientific journals.
New Zealand declared its EVA free status based on the criteria that
- no new EAV infections have been detected for over a decade.
- for this period ongoing import health controls, surveillance and the EVA control scheme measures have prevented further new cases from occurring and provided a means of detecting evidence of EAV if it was present.
- analysis was carried out on the three surveillance streams and serological test data concluded that exposure of horses to EAV if present was less than 2% within each breed categories
- the New Zealand EVA control scheme has been focused on detecting and isolating carrier stallions responsible for venereal transmission.
- general serology data supported by TAD investigations has been used to show absence of any transmission in the general horse population;
The self-declaration of freedom from EVA was submitted to the OIE on 24 June 2014, by Dr Matthew Stone, Director Animal and Animal Products and Delegate to the OIE, Ministry for Primary Industries, Wellington, New Zealand
 McFadden AMJ, Pearce PV, Orr D, Nicoll K, Rawdon TG, Pharo H, Stone M (2013) New Zealand Veterinary Journal 61(5) 300-304