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Hunter Valley horse studs facing herpes outbreak

HUNTER thoroughbred breeders fearthat ashortage of an essential equine vaccine could cause an “abortion storm” during this year’s foaling season if something isn’t done.
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The drugDuvaxyn, the only equine herpes vaccine licensed in Australia, has not been produced sincethe end of 2014, when the pharmaceutical company that makes it, Zoetis, relocated its production from Europe to the United States.

It says the reason is that the “batches produced have not met the required standards for titres, a measure of the potency of the vaccine”.

It has led to a shortfall in the supply of the drug in Australia that could have disastrous consequences when foaling season begins in the Spring.

Equine herpes is not sexually transmitted and is extremely common, but can usually be maintained.

However, when triggered, thevirus is extremely contagious, and can cause mares to abort their foals as late as the third trimester.

Tom Reilly, thechief executive of Thoroughbred Breeders Australia, said research had shown that if oneunvaccinated mare in a herd aborts,75 per cent of the other pregnant mares in that herd may also, a

“If any farmer lost 75 per cent of their stock they’d be out of business,” he said.

Arthur Mitchell, from Yarrman Park stud near Scone, said that while he had enough of the vaccine stockpiled to service his home mares, it would limit the amount of seasonal mares he could bring in from other areas.

“That’s a huge part of a stud’s business,” he said.

WORRIED: Hunter breeder Arthur Mitchell, from Yarraman Park Stud. Mr Mitchell says he is concerned about an equine herpes outbreak in the region. Pic: GEORGIE MITCHELL

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