Epidemiological investigations into the 2007 equine influenza outbreak

The University of Sydney

  • Project code: PRJ-004314

  • Project stage: Closed

  • Project start date: Friday, October 10, 2008

  • Project completion date: Monday, June 25, 2012

  • National Priority: HOR-Thoroughbred diseases and parasites


The project aims to answer many crucial questions about the 2007 equine influenza (EI) outbreak such as: How did EIV spread among the Australian horse population and across state boundaries? What factors facilitated its spread and how its spread could have been better controlled? Answering these questions will provide critical insights into the spread of contagious viral diseases in naïve animal populations under Australian conditions.

The project will start with an in-depth analysis of the features of the epidemic, such as its temporal and spatial distribution, and clustering of cases in time and space, followed by critical evaluation of the strategies employed to control the current epidemic and their effectiveness. A case control study will then be conducted to evaluate the efficacy of biosecurity measures in preventing the spread of EI infection during the outbreak. This study will involve collection and analysis of data from a sample of horse owners to identify factors statistically associated with the likelihood of being an infected property. We will also use mathematical modelling approaches, under supervision of world renowned infectious disease modellers, to compare the intensity of transmission of EI between several geographic regions, under different management conditions (for example, extensively managed populations versus high density populations), and operation types (for example, studs versus racing operations).

In summary, the project will utilise the experiences of the 2007 EI outbreak in order to improve our capacity to prevent future outbreaks of infectious disease and ameliorate the impact of such disease outbreaks in the event that they do occur.


Thoroughbred Horses

Research Organisation

The University of Sydney

Objective Summary

The aim of this project is to investigate the characteristics of the 2007 equine influenza (EI) outbreak in order to improve our understanding of the factors contributing to the spread of the outbreak in Australia and contribute to preparedness for future incursions of animal diseases in Australia. This aim will be achieved through 3 specific objectives:

1. Critical evaluation of the features of the 2007 EI epidemic
2. Investigation of the spread of EI virus (EIV) under Australian conditions
3. Evaluation of the effectiveness of biosecurity measures in preventing the spread of EI.

All stages of this research will be guided by the knowledge and experience accumulated by NSWDPI and QDPI members of the research team and by the Project Steering Committee during the current response to the EI virus incursion.