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Horse imports from Australia resume

DATE 17 April 2008

Horse imports from Australia resume

MAF Biosecurity New Zealand (MAFBNZ) has today issued an Import Health Standard for horses from Australia, lifting the suspension on imports that has been in place since August last year.

Horse imports from Australia were halted after MAFBNZ received confirmation from the Australian Government of equine influenza outbreaks in New South Wales and Queensland. The new import requirements are designed to protect New Zealand from this highly contagious virus.

Import Standards Group Manager, Clive Gower Collins, says that the new import requirements are in accordance with agreements between the exporting country, Australia, and New Zealand.

``It has taken time to develop new import conditions because we needed to take every precaution to prevent the disease being introduced here. This included discussions with the Australian government over pre-export quarantine and testing requirements and consultation with the New Zealand Equine Health Association and industry over the practicality of the new import conditions.

``The outbreak in Australia has reinforced the importance of strict biosecurity requirements at the border. The new import requirements will ensure that horse imports do not present a biosecurity risk, and we are pleased that with its release, horses can now return home.’’

The IHS sets out following requirements:

- Horses must be vaccinated against equine influenza between 42 and 120 days prior to export.
- Horses must be held for at least 21 days immediately prior to export to New Zealand in approved Pre-Export Isolation (PEI) premises, where they will undergo two PCR tests, at least five days apart, for equine influenza.
- Upon arrival in New Zealand, horses must remain in a transitional facility for at least 14 days, where they will undergo a PCR test for equine influenza.
- Horses must have resided on properties free of equine influenza for three months prior to export.

The draft Import Health Standard for Horses from Australia is available at http://www.biosecurity.govt.nz/imports/animals/standards/horaniic.aus.htm

ENDS

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