09/24/2008 11:00PM

Australian equine influenza tests in second round


Seventy-four stallions at Australia's Eastern Creek quarantine facility have undergone a second round of testing for equine influenza after one of them had a positive result from initial testing, Australia's federal agriculture minister said Thursday.

The unidentified stallion underwent a second test, which came back negative. But authorities decided to retest all 74 horses again as a precaution. They have submitted the final round of test samples to two labs, and agriculture minister Tony Burke told Australian media that the first lab had reported all 74 as negative for EI. Results for the samples at the second lab are pending, Burke said.

Last year, an outbreak of EI that originated with a stallion at the Eastern Creek facility halted racing and breeding in New South Wales and Queensland for three months, costing the Thoroughbred industry an estimated $1 billion.

The illness, which is highly contagious but generally not fatal, can cause respiratory problems and, in broodmares, abortion.