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Blood Analysis Shows Japan Horses Source Of EI

Wednesday, 26th March 2008

Counsel assisting the Callinan Inquiry noted in their closing submission that scientific evidence "pointed to a consignment of thoroughbred horses from Japan being the source of the outbreak of the virus from Sydney's Eastern Creek quarantine station last August" reported The Australian Financial Review. The Japan consignment arrived in Melbourne on August 8, and 9 of the 13 horses went to that city's Spotswood quarantine station, while 4 were flown on the same day to Sydney. Blood analysis showed 7 of the 9 horses that remained at Spotswood were infected with EI between July 24-August 24, but there was "no evidence of any contamination of horses in the general horse population in Victoria". Counsel noted it was "most unlikely" the virus would have escaped from Eastern Creek if it had "even the most rudimentary biosecurity measures". The failure to require such measures was a "serious failure" by senior management of both the Department Of Agriculture, Fisheries & Forestry and AQIS "who were responsible for managing quarantine risks". The submission identified a string of "acts & omissions" by AQIS employees & officers "dating from at least 2003, which had increased the likelihood that an infected horse would be imported & that the virus would escape into the general horse population".

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