Horse exports to Australia halted by positive test for blood disease

New Zealand racehorse exports to Australia have been stopped by MPI, after a suspected positive test for the rare blood disease piroplasmosis.

Racehorse. (File photo) Source:

Piroplasmosis, also known as theileria equi, is a blood disease that causes anaemia in animals, spread by ticks or other parasites.

MPI today advised that a suspected positive test was returned as a result of standard export certification testing carried out prior to a broodmare being shipped from New Zealand.

The horse in question is now undergoing futher testing, with MPI expecting confirmation by the end of the week. That horse was imported to New Zealand from Europe early last year for breeding.

"At this stage it is really a trade issue more than a health issue that MPI are trying to get to the bottom of," Dr Ivan Bridge, Chairman of the New Zealand Equine Health Association said.

"Australia requires us to have no piroplasmosis in the country for at least three years.

"MPI can't sign off on that at present.

"We have not had any clinical piroplasmosis in New Zealand and we don't believe that the tick that we have in New Zealand is capable of transmitting it."

A shipment of horses to Australia was scheduled for next Tuesday, however that is now on hold due to the suspected case.