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To ask Her Majesty's Government what assessment they have made of the disease risk posed to the United Kingdom horse population by the long-distance transportation of low-value unregistered horses; and what measures they will take to protect the United Kingdom equestrian industry from this risk.
Defra's International Disease Monitoring monitors outbreaks of high impact diseases around the world. When Defra becomes aware of a new animal disease outbreak in another country, we carry out an initial rapid risk assessment of the risk of introduction of that disease into the United Kingdom taking into account the level of trade from that region or any possible illegal movements.
We have recently carried out risk assessments on the introduction of the following equine diseases: Equine Infectious Anaemia, West Nile Virus, Dourine and African Horse Sickness. These concluded that the risk from Equine Infectious Anaemia and Dourine may be greater than negligible and therefore would merit additional risk mitigation measures.
All these assessments can be found on the Defra website: http://archive.defra.gov.uk/foodfarm/ farmanimal/diseases/monitoring/index.htm
Post import checks may be carried out on consignments of horses, depending on the country of origin and purpose of the horse (breeding, unregistered, consignments with large numbers etc). These checks are to ensure compliance with health certification and sometimes warrant taking samples for post import tests for diseases such as Equine Infectious Anaemia and Dourine.
Finally, Defra has a good relationship with the equine industry through the equine Core Group of experts and regularly keeps them up to date with any changes in disease risk and advice to keepers.