Horse industry in Australia remains exposed to a series of attacks three years after an outbreak of the deadly equine flu. As of now, the government has no plans or industry action plan regarding this situation.
Ministers from the state and federal agriculture sectors met in Darwin on Friday to vote on allowing voluntary use of the horse flu vaccine.
The injection is not available in Australia and most of the industry groups believe that it should stay that way.
It's a knee-jerk reaction. Major veterinary communities will be in opposition to these voluntary vaccinations. Bill Marmion, a horse specialist, said.
Before the 2007 equine flu outbreak, Australia was considered free from the disease. Mr. Marmion said that the virus has been destroyed and horse health is back at pre-2007 standards, that there is no need for the vaccine.
Horse industry groups are concerned that if the vaccine will be introduced, it will be harder for the outbreak to be detected.
Roger Lavelle, CEO of the Australian Horse Industry Council voiced out his concerns. If you get vaccinated animals, then they can get the infection and it will be very difficult to recognize if they have one. As a consequence, they are more likely to spread it around before it is detected.
Mr. Marmion said that the use of vaccines will also affect the Australian horse export market.
Countries that import horses from Australia insist that the horse doesn't have any antibodies. Those countries will no longer accept the horses from Australia anymore. Export industry will be paralyzed, he said.
Mr. Lavelle argues that improved quarantine measures are their effective preventive measures. He said that the likelihood of EI coming through is practically zero.
Others in the industry views the vaccinations as the only option to protect themselves against the financial hardship suffered back in 2007.
The reality is that in Europe the thoroughbred industry vaccinates and it reduces the possibilities for the disease to spread out, Graham Ingerson, president from the Thoroughbred Breeders, said.