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Prev Vet Med. 2011 Jun 1;100(1):53-63. doi: 10.1016/j.prevetmed.2011.03.002. Epub 2011 Apr 8.

A case-control study of risk factors for equine influenza spread onto horse premises during the 2007 epidemic in Australia.

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  • 1Faculty of Veterinary Science, The University of Sydney, Camden, NSW 2570, Australia.


The 2007 epidemic of equine influenza in Australia provided an opportunity to investigate the effectiveness of on-farm biosecurity measures in preventing the spread of a novel pathogen in a largely naive population. We conducted a case-control study of 200 horse premises from highly affected regions of the state of New South Wales (NSW), to investigate risk factors for the spread of equine influenza onto horse premises, specifically, non-compliance with biosecurity measures recommended to horse owners by the relevant animal health authority, the NSW Department of Primary Industries. The study was restricted to cases occurring during the first seven weeks of the epidemic, a period prior to vaccination and the relaxation of some movement restrictions. Case and control premises were selected from a laboratory testing dataset and interviews were conducted with horse owners and managers on premises between July and November 2009. The proximity of premises to the nearest infected premises was the factor most strongly associated with case status. Case premises were more likely than control premises to be within 5 km and beyond 10 km of an infected premises. Having a footbath in place on the premises before any horses were infected was associated with a nearly four-fold reduction in odds of infection (odds ratio=0.27; 95% confidence interval: 0.09, 0.83). This protective association may have reflected overall premises biosecurity standards related to the fomite transmission of equine influenza. Compliance with certain on-farm biosecurity practices seemingly prevented horses on premises in high risk areas being infected with equine influenza during the 2007 outbreak in Australia. In future outbreaks, in addition to broader disease control measures, on-farm biosecurity practices should be adopted by horse owners and managers to prevent equine influenza spread.

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