Australian EI Crisis: Under Control or Out of Control?

Who can you believe with all the conflicting reports from Australia? The official message to the world via government press releases is “all quiet on the Aussie front, situation under control” while other reports would label it “SNAFU!”

The Courier Mail newspaper reports that 3000 people protested in Ipswich yesterday against the handling of the crisis:

“Dr David Lovell, director of Redlands Veterinary Surgery, commented at a 3000-strong protest rally in Ipswich against the DPI’s handling of the outbreak. ‘The update last night was that equine flu was under control and that vaccination was proceeding very well,’ he said. ‘One of the things that comes to my mind is when America invaded Iraq and Saddam’s man was appearing daily on local television telling the people of Iraq that they were winning the war. My personal view is that this disease is getting out of control’.”

(Note: Dr Lovell is former president of the Australian Equine Veterinary Association and a director of the Australian Veterinary Association.)

A batch of 4800 doses of vaccine destined for the northern state of Queensland was compromised when the temperature sensor indicated that it had become exposed to below-minimum temperatures, which is a problem with transporting live vaccine.

More from the Courier Mail:

“Dr Lovell said he did not believe there were only 628 infected properties in Queensland. He said he had spoken to many property owners with infected horses who had not been officially confirmed by the DPI.

‘They tell me that probably only one in every four properties is being recorded. That would suggest that we could have over 2500 infected properties,’ he said.

(State) Premier Anna Bligh has written to (Australian Prime Minister) John Howard seeking 10,000 vaccines for the horse-breeding industry and another 4000 doses for the non-racing industry. Ms Bligh said the sector was ‘at serious risk of widespread infection and economic collapse’.”

Another grumble coming from Australia is that racehorse stables are receiving preferential treatment for vaccine and quarantine over pleasure horses, many of whom are competition horses.

In New South Wales, a government press release states: to date there are more than 32,000 horses infected on more than 3700 properties in NSW. NSW Department of Primary Industries initiated the first round in its buffer vaccination program (this) weekend.”

Buffer zones, classified by color, have been identified around infected areas; preventive vaccination will be concentrated in these areas to prevent the spread of the disease to so-called “clean” green zones.

Early this morning, two horses tested positive to EI in one of NSW’s green zones. That should change the map.




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