HORSE organisations and venues will consider their positions on Hendra vaccinations and disease management following a biosecurity meeting in Tamworth yesterday.
About 40 people attended the Department of Primary Industries meeting at the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre (AELEC).
Present were veterinarians, equine health specialists and representatives of major horse organisations and AELEC user groups, including the National Cutting Horse Association, the Australian Quarter Horse Association, the Australian Stock Horse Society, the Australian Horse Industry Council and the Australian Bushmen’s Campdraft and Rodeo Association.
While there are no clear-cut answers, AELEC manager Mike Rowland said the venue’s biosecurity plan would be amended to deal with Hendra.
“We haven’t come up with solutions just yet, but we had good open and honest discussion, meaning that some of the rumours and innuendo around the disease were dealt with,” he said.
“We already have a significant biosecurity plan in place but what we don’t have is something that deals with Hendra.”
Having the equine influenza outbreak occur before AELEC was built has been an advantage for the centre.
“AELEC was designed around the ability to control access to and from the site and provide quarantine areas,” Mr Rowland said.
“What we’re hoping to do is develop a cooperative approach in conjunction with each event organiser.”
Equestrian NSW has already moved to make the Hendra vaccination mandatory from January next year.
“It wouldn’t surprise me to see other organisations take that step,” Mr Rowland said.
“There will be some type of action taken by all the organisations.”
Tamworth vet Doug Edlington said the discussion was productive in dismissing misconceptions about Hendra.
“What was apparent was that some people have very little understanding of the disease,” he said.
“The vaccine is 100 per cent effective so the no-brainer attitude is that horse owners should vaccinate their horses.”
An expert spoke about the effect of the West Nile Virus, a disease carried by birds and mosquitoes which has prompted mandatory vaccinations in the United States.
“Horses aren’t allowed into shows unless they have a valid vaccination certificate,” Dr Edlington said.
“I can’t see why the same commonsense approach can’t happen here.”
Dr Edlington has vaccinated about 800 horses since the vaccine became available in July.
“The cost varies between vets but you’re looking at about $100-$150 each shot,” he said.
“There’s the first shot, the second one’s three to six weeks later and then there’s a shot every six months, but there are suggestions that could change to 12 months.”