Dáil Éireann - Volume 640 - 31 October, 2007

Written Answers. - Animal Diseases.

Deputy Jim O’Keeffe asked the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food the plans in place to ensure that equine influenza presently raging in Australia does not reach Ireland; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [26389/07]

  Deputy Mary Coughlan: Equine Influenza is endemic in Ireland, Europe and North America and, accordingly, is not a notifiable disease. [1385] Ireland has an industry-led compulsory vaccination programme for all racehorses, which is endorsed by the Turf Club and Horse Racing Ireland, with annual booster shots required. Entry into sales within the thoroughbred sector is also subject to appropriate vaccination. In addition, the Federation Equestrienne International (FEI) stipulates that all thoroughbred horses competing in FEI worldwide competitions must be vaccinated against Equine Influenza with 6 monthly booster shots. With regard to the non-thoroughbred sector, it remains a best practice recommendation that horses should also be vaccinated.

The last epidemic of Equine Influenza in Ireland was in 1989 with sporadic outbreaks since. These have passed without any significant consequence as an adequate base line protection rate against this disease has now been achieved within the equine population.

There were eleven Irish stallions in quarantine in Australia at the time of the Australian outbreak in August. A protocol has been agreed for their return to Ireland which requires that the horses, on their return, must be

accompanied by the appropriate veterinary health certificates for horsestravelling from Australia to the EU;

inspected at the Border Inspection Post;

isolated at a suitable facility and kept apart from all other equidae for a period of not less than fifteen days; and

subject to periodic examination by veterinary staff of my Department while in isolation and before being released from the isolation facility.