There are hundreds of millions of Australian dollars (x6) at risk. To understand the enormity in Rands in the quaranteening of shuttle stallions in Australia; a horse like Encosta de Largo’s owners, for example, stand to lose as much as AUS $225 Million, (more than a billion Rand in fees alone), should he be detained for the breeding season, and that number telescopes with every other one of his 27 fellow detainees.
In our attempt to help the Australians with lessons from our own exposure to this virus, we’ve got Professor Alan Guthrie assisting the Australians with advice.
Salient features of his comments follow hereunder:
Our 2003 EI outbreak was first noticed on 9 December 2003. The 1986 outbreak was first noticed on 11 December 1986. We were thus extremely fortunate that our outbreaks occurred right at the tail end of our breeding season. Whilst there were movement controls put in place these mainly stopped mares returning from being covered in other parts of the country to their home studs. In 2003, we implemented vaccination immediately and the requirement was that all horses (mares and their foals) had to be vaccinated against EI on at least 2 occasions at least 14 days apart with the last vaccination having been administered at least 14 days prior to the horses moving. This meant that a number of horses were delayed by about a month on other studs. Obviously, all the studs vaccinated their horses and thus the impact of receiving horses that may have been infected was drastically reduced.
EI was introduced onto a number of studs in particularly the Western and Eastern Cape in 2003. These outbreaks occurred in December, January and February. Obviously the vast majority of foals on the studs at this time were a few months old and I am not aware of any foal (or any other horse on any one of the studs, for that matter) having died as a consequence of EI. With your outbreak being at the beginning of the season the chance is that you will have younger foals exposed which may change the picture slightly, but not much I would suspect.
In my opinion, the sooner you can get approval to vaccinate horses, the sooner you will be able to start limiting the impact of this outbreak. I fully support the movement restrictions that have been put in place but I do not see any way that these will ever be effective in eliminating the transmission of EI. The only way that one can limit the impact is by ensuring at risk animals are vaccinated.
Without vaccination, every movement of a horse could be movement of a potentially infected horse and you would only see the consequences at least 3 days later. I do not see how one could operate a business like a Thoroughbred stud with this potential risk being associated with every movement.
(Excerpt of letter from Prof Alan Guthrie)