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NSW Public Health Bulletin archive

Investigation of equine influenza transmission in NSW: walk, wind or wing? Volume 20 Issue 9-10

Paula J. Spokes, Andrew J. N. Marich, Jennie A. Musto, Kate A. Ward, Adam T. Craig, Jeremy M. McAnulty

New South Wales Public Health Bulletin 20(10) 152–156 Published online: 9 November 2009

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About the author/s

Paula J. Spokes

Andrew J. N. Marich

Jennie A. Musto

Kate A. Ward

Adam T. Craig

Jeremy M. McAnulty


Objectives: An outbreak of equine influenza occurred in New South Wales in 2007. In addition to the local spread of the disease between bordering properties, windborne spread over several kilometres had been postulated as a possible method of transmission in this outbreak. This study aimed to describe potential modes of transmission for a property infected with equine influenza where no apparent epidemiological links to other infected properties were reported. Methods: A semi-structured questionnaire was administered to owners of affected properties. The questionnaire collected detailed transmission-risk information, including personnel movements, equipment sharing, and horse and other animal movements. Results: Interviews with property owners from one geographic area suggested the potential for birds and other animals – rather than wind – to facilitate transmission of equine influenza. Conclusion: This study described the potential for mechanical spread of equine influenza. Further research, including laboratory testing of bird plumage following contact with infected horses, may be useful to confirm the possibility of avian fomite transmission.