Agriculture Victoria has not been advised of any further incidents of multiple sudden horse deaths since Friday 14 July but is continuing to investigate those that previously occured on separate properties.
There is no evidence to suggest these horse deaths are related or caused by an infectious disease.
All affected horses have been reported to have died relatively quickly, within hours to one day from the first sign of illness. That is the only common factor to date.
This is a complex investigation. Agriculture Victoria is actively attending properties, working with owners, testing samples and looking into all reports made to its hotline.
Extensive testing of samples is ongoing, and results from recent investigations where samples were available have indicated no presence of an emergency animal disease or infectious diseases already present in Australia.
At this point, Agriculture Victoria has only found normal causes of death and nothing unusual.
More testing is required for a range of possible infectious and non-infectious causes. It may be difficult to determine a cause of death in all cases due to a lack of samples for testing.
Agriculture Victoria is aware of the confirmed case of Hendra virus in New South Wales. Hendra virus has not been detected in Victoria as part of the current investigation, nor is there thought to be any connection between these incidents.
There have also been several reports on social media channels of further affected properties. Agriculture Victoria is calling on these owners to make contact so they can assist with its ongoing investigation.
While the investigation is still underway, it’s essential to remember that sudden death of individual horses is not uncommon and there may not be a definitive answer or common link found.
The sudden death of horses can be attributed to various causes. Horse owners should monitor their animals, conduct good parasite management and weed control, and ensure good quality feed and water is provided.
No movement restrictions
As testing of samples for infectious disease to date has been negative, there’s no reason to restrict any movements of horses or separate horses at this stage. Horse events and movements can go ahead as planned. If you have a sick horse, it would be wise to separate it from your other horses until your veterinarian has examined it.
Monitoring and reporting
Horse owners should monitor their animals and report any sudden deaths or rapid onset illness immediately to their local vet, Agriculture Victoria or via the emergency animal disease hotline on 1800 675 888.
Those who are concerned about sick horses should seek advice from their vet.
Property identification codes
Horse owners should register their horse with a Property Identification Code (PIC). It is an important communication and traceability tool used during animal health incidents.
A PIC enables Agriculture Victoria to contact horse owners if required. It’s free, quick and can be done here.
Please be mindful of what you share online, as posting misinformation can cause unnecessary alarm to horse owners.