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Malaysia bans Australia horses on virus fears: report

20 july 2011, 16:06
©RIA Novosti
©RIA Novosti
Malaysia has imposed a ban on the import of horses from Australia as a precautionary measure following the outbreak of a deadly bat-borne horse virus in the country, AFP reports Wednesday.

Australia is an important supplier of horses for racing in this Southeast Asian country, where it is a popular sport. It is estimated that Malaysia's yearly import of horseflesh is worth some 1.0 billion ringgit ($330 million).

The Star newspaper said the ban took effect from July 8. The ban will be lifted after Kuala Lumpur gets the all-clear from the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. The Hendra virus can also kill humans.

"There are no cases of the virus infection here. However, we are taking precautionary measures and monitoring the situation in Australia closely," said Ibrahim Che' Embong, the veterinary services department deputy director general.

Since late June 12 horses have died or been put down in Australia as a result of the Hendra virus.

Horses on three properties in New South Wales and in six Queensland have been infected with the virus, which is thought to be spread to horses via half-chewed fruit, or water and food contaminated by bats' droppings.

There are fears the disease could hit Australia's high-profile horse racing industry.

Hendra has killed four of the seven people who have contracted it since it was first identified in Australia in 1994, but human infections are rare.

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