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MAF BNZ LODGES APPLICATION TO BRING IN HORSE FLU VACCINE
3 December 2007
The Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry Biosecurity New Zealand (MAF BNZ) has lodged an application to use a vaccine to protect New Zealand horses against the equine influenza virus, the Environmental Risk Management Authority (ERMA New Zealand) announced today.
The equine influenza virus caused major disruption in the horse racing and breeding industry in Australia earlier this year after infected animals were discovered in New South Wales. Thousands of horses eventually tested positive for the virus. Australia has since imported a vaccine to help control the disease.
ERMA New Zealand has received an application from MAF BNZ for a rapid approval for a vaccine called Flu Avert® I.N. This vaccine contains a weakened live equine influenza virus which is administered to horses intranasally. This vaccine stimulates an immune response that is similar to the response that occurs when the horse catches a virulent wild strain of the virus. The vaccine has been used in the United States since 1999 and also in Canada.
ERMA New Zealand’s General Manager, New Organisms, Dr Libby Harrison, says the rapid approval process being used in this case means the flu vaccine meets certain low-risk criteria and can be assessed more quickly than usual as long as the required level of information is provided. “An application like this requires information on the biological characteristics of the organism and the route of administration of the medicine. If the relevant information cannot be provided to show that the vaccine meets the low-risk criteria we can’t proceed with a rapid approval.”
Dr Harrison says once ERMA New Zealand’s Decision-making Committee has the information it needs, it has to consider whether the application meets the criteria for approval, which include assessing any potential adverse effects on public safety and health, valued species, the environment and natural habitats. “The Committee will then decide what sort of controls should be placed on the use, storage and disposal of the vaccine. Finally, in order to approve the vaccine the Committee has to determine that, given the controls, the risks it poses are negligible.”
The equine flu vaccine also has to be approved by the New Zealand Food Safety Authority’s Agricultural Compounds and Veterinary Medicines Group before it can be used.
For further information contact:
David Venables, Communications Manager, ERMA New Zealand.
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