Australia's a big country. And not an equine is stirring today.
Nor a horse van, nor even a feed truck or a hay trailer. The country has stopped dead in its hoofprints, by government decree. It's a true state of emergency.
They are even recommending that people tie up or confine their dogs.
From my friend Geraldine, editor of the Horsepoint e-newsletter and web site in Australia's state of Victoria; up to this point the government had only been concerned with the state of New South Wales, where Sydney is located:
A National "Stand Still" has been put in place to prevent further outbreaks of Equine Influenza. The Stand Still is in effect for the next 72 hours. The Stand Still cancels all movement of horses in Australia and requires the cancellation of all horse events.
How it works:
The Chief Veterinary Officers of other states and territories, together with industry representatives agreed at this morning to recommend a 72 hour national standstill on horse movements, starting from 1.00 pm today as part of a coordinated national response consistent with Australia's veterinary emergency plan (AUSVETPLAN).
The purpose is to reduce the risk of spreading infection by avoiding congregations of horses from different origins. Racing clubs and other equine associations are being asked to cancel or postpone any meetings or events.
Owners are also being asked to limit contact between their horses and other horses as much as possible and not to move their horses.
For events already underway, organizers are requested to contact the State Department of Agriculture regarding advice on how to manage the standstill in relation to these events.
For states other than NSW, some movement of horses in transit will be allowed to continue, if they had already left their usual place of residence. They will be able to return provided that the journey can be completed expeditiously:
? only within the state
? preferably completed within 4 hours
? completed with no contact with other horses not of the same consignment
(or at the same event).
? The movement is directly back to the premises from which the current
journey originated and on which the horses had been held or were present
immediately prior to the recent movement.
Note that for NSW a complete standstill applies i.e. no movement at all. On return home the horses should be isolated from other horses and watched closely for fever and respiratory signs. Equine influenza can be spread by humans so wash hands and change clothes before handling other horses. All horse owners should keep a close watch on their animals and report any signs of fever, coughing or respiratory symptoms to their local veterinarian.
More information is available from the Australian government at this web address:
Thanks to Geraldine for keeping us posted. She's also been helpful in advising this blog on the effects of the terrible drought in Australia on the horses there. Australia has been a tough place to be in the horse business this year.