FEI Vet Julian Willmore reports from the eventing lockdown site in Queensland:
"As of the end of Wednesday (August 29) here at Morgan Park, Warwick, over 90 percent of the 250 plus horses are showing the typical dry cough and the elevated temperature which is so characteristic of this disease. Overall, the horses are all doing quite well, no horses have died, none have collapsed, none are in intensive care. All horses are eating and in fact have never stopped eating throughout this past week. Most horses have the opportunity to spend time out of their stables for several hours daily, grazing and walking on the lead with their grooms.
"The vets on site have been monitoring the horses' temperatures twice daily, providing any medication where necessary. The working hours have been long for the vets. The horse owners are obviously quite distressed about their confinement and the likelihood of missing upcoming competitions, (and are) hoping that their horses will all make an uneventful recovery.
In the meantime, the Queensland state government has pulled out all stops to assist with the situation and under State emergency legislation has turned the site into a self-contained mini-city with portable classrooms for the school children there, paying for all feed, veterinary and other horse care, employing the vets on site, providing three meals a day and couselling services to those in need, and setting up an emergency fund of $20,000, which is managed by the local council.
The town itself has rallied to provide additional food and other items and is raising more money to assist.
Thanks to Franz Venhaus of the Equestrian Federation of Australia for assistance with this report. Photo by Franz.
(Please note: Equine Influenza (EI) has spread throughout Queensland and New South Wales and has jumped from sport horses to Thoroughbreds and Standardbreds. The Australian Broadcast Corporation (ABC) estimates that there are about 2000 horses sick with the flu in Australia at this time. EI was not known in Australia until last week and the disease spread like wildfire. Horses there are not vaccinated for the disease, which has many strains.)