Notice to Industry 4: Grooms - Biosecurity Requirements

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​​Outco​me

The outcome of this document is for grooms accompanying imported live horses to be informed of their biosecurity requirements and their obligation to comply with these requirements. This document excludes horses imported from New Zealand and New Caledonia.

This document is provided for information only. To the extent that this document is inconsistent with any import permit, direction, industry notice or authorisation to enter a quarantine isolation facility, the terms and conditions of the import permit, direction, industry notice or authorisation to enter a quarantine isolation facility take precedence and will apply. Failure to comply with a condition of an import permit, direction, industry notice or authorisation to enter a quarantine isolation facility may constitute an offence.

Background

Each year, hundreds of live horses are imported into Australia. Each consignment may pose a biosecurity risk from animal diseases such as equine influenza (EI), equine viral arteritis, contagious equine metritis, piroplasmosis, surra and Japanese encephalitis. Additionally, the import of horses presents a plant biosecurity risk due to the potential for weed seeds to be present in the air stalls, equipment and animal faeces.

The import of live horses is regulated by the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources. The department has developed conditions for the import of horses to ensure that any potential biosecurity risks can be managed. Strict pre-export and post arrival quarantine (PAQ) isolation requirements apply to imported horses and all people and goods that come into contact with imported horses.

The primary disease of concern when handling imported horses is EI. This disease can be transmitted via an infected horse, either directly or via people or equipment in contact with an infected horse. The EI virus can be inactivated in a variety of ways, including by using soaps, detergents, acids and oxidising agents (such as Virkon).

Grooms accompanying imported horses on flights or in PAQ isolation have the potential to transmit EI virus. Grooms’ personal effects and any equipment used in the feeding, handling and treatment of the horses also carry a risk of transmitting EI. The Biosecurity Act 2015 provides biosecurity officers with the authority to give directions to or require a person who may have been exposed to a disease or pest, such as through contact with goods that are subject to biosecurity control to do certain things. These directions or requirements may include being instructed to undertake appropriate decontamination measures.

Personal biosecurity requirements

Grooms who have travelled or had contact with the imported horses but are not accompanying horses to the horse compound are required to:

  • Present all baggage for inspection and treatment if necessary at the corral.
  • Undertake a complete head to toe, full body 3 minute shower before leaving the corral (including washing hair and cleaning under fingernails).
  • Surrender contaminated clothing (they are wearing) to a biosecurity officer or the Approved Arrangement (AA) site (corral) for laundering, and footwear for cleaning (if required) and mandatory disinfection.
  • Change into new/clean clothing and footwear.

Grooms who have travelled or had contact with the imported horses and are accompanying horses to the horse compound are required to:

  • Travel to the horse compound in the horse float/truck in the designated groom compartment (not the driver’s cabin).
  • Wear dedicated clothing (including underwear and socks) and footwear in the horse compound. This clothing and footwear must remain in the horse compound.
  • Have all personal luggage clearly labelled and present for inspection (and treatment if necessary) after arrival in the horse compound.
  • Undertake a complete head to toe, full body 3 minute shower (including washing hair and cleaning under fingernails).
  • Change into clean clothing (including underwear and socks) and footwear (packed to prevent contamination) immediately before leaving the horse compound.

Note regarding protective vests:

  • Protective vests worn during the transportation/clearance of horses must be given to departmental personnel for decontamination prior to leaving the corral. Departmental staff must inspect and remove any plant material and spray both sides with 70% ethanol.
  • If a groom attends multiple clearances of horses heading to the same horse compound, their vest may be held by the department between arrivals without decontamination in between.
  • In-flight grooms travelling with horses in the truck to the post arrival quarantine facility may continue to wear their vest. Upon arrival at the facility the vest must be handed over to a biosecurity officer for inspection and decontamination. If the groom does not enter the quarantine facility, they must undertake a complete head to toe, full body 3 minute shower (including washing hair and cleaning under fingernails), before being allowed to leave.

Grooms attending the horse compound at all other times are required to:

  • Wear dedicated clothing (including underwear and socks) and footwear in the horse compound. This clothing and footwear must remain in the horse compound.
  • Undertake a complete head to toe, full body 3 minute shower before leaving the horse compound (including washing hair and cleaning under fingernails).
  • Change into clean clothing (including underwear and socks) and footwear immediately before leaving the horse compound.
  • Refer to the reference: Personnel – biosecurity requirements (2.11) for more information.

Note regarding protective vests: If protective vests are worn at the post arrival quarantine facility, they must stay in the quarantine facility until the horses are released. Vests are not allowed to go between compounds during post arrival quarantine.

Any personal equipment (e.g. mobile phones, tablets, paperwork, eyeglasses etc) used on site at the corral or horse compound must either:

  • Remain in the horse compound until the end of PAQ isolation, OR
  • Be decontaminated prior to leaving the horse compound by wiping down the equipment with alcohol wipes OR
  • For simple jewellery, it may be permitted to enter and leave the horse compound if it can be adequately disinfected.

As such, grooms are advised to only take essential equipment in to the horse compound. Grooms must not take unauthorised equipment or personal effects into the compound. Limited secure storage is available in each compound access point for small personal items not needed inside the horse compound.

Note: Grooms are permitted to move from one horse compound to the other but must follow all personnel and equipment decontamination procedures when leaving each compound.

Biosecurity requirements

Requirements for the horse compound

  • Only grooms authorised by the importer of the horses will be eligible for authorisation from the department to enter the horse compound. The importer will provide the department with the relevant authorisation form for each groom.
  • Non-essential visitors and unauthorised personnel will not be given authorisation by the department to enter the horse compound. Only  personnel with a genuine reason to enter the horse compound will be given authorisation by the department.
  • All grooms attending the horse compound must be given authorisation by the department to enter the quarantine isolation facility. The department can issue a 12 month authorisation to enter the horse compound.
    • Grooms must have completed the following department training within the last 12 months:
      1. Biosecurity requirements at the horse compound
      2. Quarantine isolation facility site induction (horses)
      3. Equine exotic disease training
    • Grooms are required to sign and comply with all the requirements in form: Authorisation for a groom to access the horse compound at PEQ Mickleham in relation to a consignment (3.8a).
    • If grooms have not completed the training within the last 12 months, on arrival at the horse compound grooms must read and sign the form: Authorisation for a non-induced groom to access the horse compound at PEQ Mickleham in relation to a consignment(3.8c) in the presence of a biosecurity officer. A full training session must then be undertaken either within 24 hours or prior to re-entry to the horse compound; and prior to resuming normal duties as a groom at the horse compound.
  • Grooms will be issued with an access card by security on the first day of duty for the intake. This card must be returned  once the horses have been released and the compound has been cleaned up.
  • Grooms must complete and sign form: Authorised horse visitors register (3.7) in the presence of a biosecurity officer upon entry to the horse compound.
  • Grooms’ dedicated work clothes and boots will be inspected by a biosecurity officer to ensure cleanliness on arrival into the horse compound. Clothes and boots will be treated if necessary, and must remain in the horse compound for the duration of the quarantine isolation period.
  • Personal effects (such as any luggage) will also be inspected by biosecurity officer arrival at the horse compound.
  • No equipment may be taken into the horse compound except with the authorisation of the department’s horse compound manager (or delegate) or the supervising departmental veterinary officer (VO).
  • All equipment used in the feeding, handling and treatment of the horses in PAQ isolation must be new or cleaned and disinfected before use.
  • All equipment must be used only in the dedicated horse compound for the duration of the PAQ isolation unless otherwise approved by the department. 
  • All equipment must remain in the horse compound until the horses are released or be disinfected to the satisfaction of the department prior to removal from the PAQ isolation.
  • Feed arriving with the horses without a valid import permit must disposed of in biosecurity waste bins on the day of arrival.
  • Grooms must not use the horse crush within each compound until they have approval from the assistant director (or delegate) and the importer to do so.

Note: permission is not required to use the scales only.

  • Grooms must not use the horse walker within each compound until they have approval from the assistant director - horses (or delegate) and the importer to do so.

Biosecurity requirements during PAQ isolation

During PAQ isolation, grooms are required to:

  • Take and record the horses’ rectal temperatures on arrival and then twice daily (at least 8 hours apart) for the remaining time in PAQ isolation.
    • Departmental staff will monitor the taking and recording of rectal temperatures for the first 4 days of PAQ isolation.
    • Random unannounced monitoring by a biosecurity officer will continue for the remainder of the horses’ time in quarantine isolation with a minimum of one check per week.

Note: if no rectal temperature is recorded on two consecutive occasions during PAQ isolation or the horse is showing signs of respiratory disease, the groom must:

    • Notify the department’s VO or horse compound manager (or delegate) (refer to Reference: Emergency contact information – horses (4.2) for contact details) and
    • Arrange for a thorough clinical examination by a registered veterinarian. The registered veterinarian will need to provide written certification that the horse is showing no clinical signs of respiratory disease. Signs of respiratory disease include nasal discharge (runny nose), poor appetite (not eating well), noisy or fast breathing, dull/quieter than normal.
  • Notify the department’s VO/ horse compound manager (or delegate) if at any time the horse’s rectal temperature is 38.5°C or higher or the temperature of any ‘foal at foot’ is 39°C or higher.
    • A nasopharyngeal swab (nasal for foals at foot) to test for equine influenza virus must be collected if the horse has two consecutive temperatures higher than 38.5°C (39°C or higher for foals).
    • An additional test does not need to be taken if swabs have been taken within the last 24 hours and sent for testing.
  • In instances where a horse has a persistently elevated temperature (over 38.5°C for more than 4 consecutive days), the importer may make an application to reduce the frequency of swabbing.
    • A written application must be made to the Horse, Livestock and Bird Imports Program in Canberra via the department’s VO or assistant director – horses (or delegate).
    • The application must include the details for this ‘case’ and any other relevant horses in the quarantine isolation facility.
    • There is no guarantee that the frequency will be varied after the 4-day period and each case will be assessed on its merits.
  • Observe horses for and record signs of general ill health, including nasal or eye discharge, coughing, diarrhoea and reduced appetite, at least twice daily on the appropriate record sheet.
  • Ensure that any abnormalities in the health of the horse, diagnosis or treatments implemented are detailed on the horse’s health record.  Health records for each horse are held in a designated area within the horse compound. 
  • Do not give any treatments to a horse unless a private vet has directed you to do so, in accordance with veterinary treatment requirements during PAQ.
  • Report any health problems affecting horses or other stock on the premises during PAQ isolation promptly to the supervising departmental VO or the horse compound manager (or delegate).
  • Ensure that from arrival up to the fourth day of PAQ isolation, faeces and stable waste are placed in the marked biosecurity waste bin/bunker. Faeces produced after 4 days must be placed in the non-biosecurity waste bin/bunker. 
  • Notify the horse compound manager (or delegate) if a private veterinarian or farrier is required.
  • Report any breach or suspected breach of biosecurity procedures (by that or any other person) to the horse compound manager (or delegate) or department’s VO.
  • Sign in and out of the horse compound using form: Authorised horse visitors register (3.7) for every entry or exit.

Horse husbandry and welfare

During PAQ isolation the grooms’ responsibilities for horse husbandry and welfare are to:

  • Make all reasonable efforts to ensure that horses are under control at all times.
  • Supervise the horse at all times when a horse is outside its stable, including when the horse is in an exercise area in the horse compound.
  • Provide adequate equipment, feed, water, supervision and care to ensure the welfare of the horses held in quarantine isolation, including:
    • Checking feed to ensure it is free from contamination, which may adversely affect the health of the horse.
    • Storing feed in the best practical way to prevent deterioration (e.g. in dry, rodent-proof bins).
    • Ensuring horses are able to easily reach feed and water containers.
    • Ensuring clean water is available at regular intervals.
  • Maintain the hygiene of the horse compound by:
  • Providing appropriate, clean and sufficiently thick stable bedding.
  • Ensuring that soiled bedding and waste is deposited in the designated bin/area within the facility. 
  • Hosing, sponging or brushing horses after working to remove sweat, sand and dirt.

Note: All required equipment, feed and therapeutics must be provided by the importer, and are subject to the department's requirements for entry into the facility. Feed arriving with horses, may only be used if accompanied by an import permit and it has been appropriately treated prior to use.

General requirements while in the quarantine isolation facility

Grooms are required to comply with the following general requirements:

  • Smoking is not allowed as the post entry quarantine isolation facility is a non-smoking site.
  • The quarantine isolation facility, including the horse compounds, as an Australian Government facility, is an alcohol free site.
  • Disorderly and antisocial behaviour will not be tolerated. Such behaviour will result in grooms being removed from the horse compounds and quarantine isolation facility.
  • All gates are to be kept closed and locked.
  • Loss of keys or swipe cards, or damage to property must be reported to department personnel immediately.
  • Grooms’ vehicles are to be parked in the designated car park spaces only.
  • Speed limits must be obeyed while driving in the quarantine isolation facility.
  • Grooms are responsible for maintaining cleanliness of the amenities within the horse compound.
  • All garbage must be placed in the bins provided.
  • Please respect other people on site in the horse compound and quarantine isolation facility by keeping noise to a minimum and by leaving and entering the site quietly.
  • All relevant WH&S control measures must be applied at all times.
  • All WH&S incidents must be reported in a timely manner.

Note: The department will pursue individuals for costs where their negligent actions have resulted in damage or loss.

Failure to follow these instructions, or specific directions by the department’s staff, will result in grooms being removed from the facility.

Non-compliance with these conditions

Failure to follow these instructions, or specific directions by the department’s staff, will result in grooms being removed from the facility. Additionally, failure to comply with the above conditions may constitute an offence under the Biosecurity Act 2015 and penalties may apply.

Related material

Reference: Personnel – biosecurity requirements (2.11)
Reference: Emergency contact information – horses (4.2)

Document information

The following table contains administrative metadata.

Instructional material owner:

Director, Horses, Livestock, Bird Imports Program

IML document ID:

2012/1093

Freedom of information exemption:

No

TRIM container number:

2015/54213E

Review date:

June 2019

Version History

The following table details the published date and amendment details for this document.

Version

Date

Amendment details

1.0

23/09/2008

To inform grooms of their biosecurity requirements, to incorporate comments from AQIS regions, the HICC and information from the Dec 2007 SOP.

2.0

12/11/2008

To incorporate legal advice and comments from AQIS staff at the workshop held in Oct 2008.

3.0

19/01/2009

Final editing and checks with legal

4.0

25/06/2009

Amended following meeting 13 May 2009

5.0

11/02/2010

Amended following advice from BA regarding swabbing

6.0

13/07/2012

New import permit conditions and WH&S requirements for using the horse crush.

7.0

05/03/2014

Add nasal swabbing for foals and move to new template.

8.0

18/11/2015

Updated on new template; updated for new quarantine facility.

9.0 16/6/2016Updates to comply with the new Biosecurity Act 2015
10.011/9/2017

Updated details on groom’s exotic disease training.
Updated compound as a non-smoking site.

11.010/11/2017

Updated to accommodate for AA site operated corral commencing operation

12.029/03/2018

Updated to add in groom protective vest advice.

Last reviewed: 4 November 2019
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