E-I E-I ...Oh no! Fears horse flu has infiltrated Tweed


THERE were grave concerns last night the equine influenza crisis sweeping the country had found its way to the Tweed.

Late yesterday the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) confirmed it had conducted tests on a horse stabled on the Tweed which has shown signs of being infected with the highly contagious horse flu which has strangled thoroughbred racing in NSW and Queensland.

A DPI spokeswoman said late yesterday it could take several days for the test results to be returned, and until then details of where the horse was quarantined would remain confidential.

"We double-test any suspected cases, sending tests to Sydney and Melbourne," she said. "It could take days for the test results to be returned. Some horses show symptoms but do not return a positive result.'

"If there is a positive result (for EI) more details will be made available."

The horse, the only one showing symptoms on the Tweed so far, is believed to have come into contact with infected horses at a recent campdraft at Narrabri in western NSW.

Sixty of the 400 horses from the campdraft have tested positive for EI.

The latest outbreak has hit the Tweed horse fraternity hard, with many waiting with bated x breath for the test results.

Until yesterday, many were convinced Tweed horses had escaped the virus.

"It's worrying," Murwillumbah racehorse trainer Darren Graham said. "It would almost be better if they (horses) all got it and were quarantined for 30 days, but it doesn't work that way.

"This outbreak could go on for weeks, if not months." Concerns have also been raised in the horse fraternity as to whether this year's Murwillumbah Melbourne Cup Day races will go ahead.

"There are suspicions the virus is airborne, or being transferred to other areas by birds, by people," Mr Graham said.

Champion Olympic showjumper Ron Easey has been stuck at Caba-%rita for two weeks, and while none of his horses have shown any signs of illness, the latest possible case here has him concerned.

"Every day I am quarantined I am losing money, but the worst part is being away from home. But it is a real concern now there has been a suspected case here."

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