Equine diseases & biosecurity

New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing’s vision for thoroughbred welfare

“A thoroughbred should be provided a good life, with the care and conditions that will allow the horse to thrive and perform to its natural abilities, with minimal discomfort and an absence of suffering.”

Maintaining a healthy and disease-free thoroughbred population is good for the overall welfare of the horses. Certain exotic equine diseases pose considerable welfare and economic risks to thoroughbred racing and breeding in New Zealand.

Biosecurity measures are the best protection against exotic diseases.  NZTR is a member of the NZ Equine Health Association (NZEHA), which is mandated by equine sector groups as a signatory to the Government Industry Agreement (GIA) biosecurity deed with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).  The NZEHA and MPI work together to ensure that the welfare of horses in New Zealand is not affected by such diseases. This enables NZEHA to enter into operational agreements regarding readiness and response for exotic equine-related diseases.  These agreements will help equip the industry with tools to support the quick and efficient control of exotic disease outbreaks.

There are nine equine specific diseases that are notifiable in accordance with the Biosecurity (Notifiable Organisms) Order 2016:
  • Equine influenza
  • Contagious equine metritis
  • Equine infectious anaemia
  • Equine viral arteritis
  • African horse sickness
  • Glanders
  • Equine encephalitis viruses (various forms)
  • Epizootic lymphangitis
  • Equine piroplasmosis.
In addition, there are endemic and usually dormant diseases such as Strangles and Equine Herpes Virus, which occur from time to time, are highly contagious and can have severe effects on our equine population.  Tetanus is a constant risk, although vaccination regimes mean that the disease is rare these days.  Salmonella and Rotavirus are also of particular concern to the breeding industry.

NZEHA, NZ Equine Veterinary Association and the NZ Equine Research Foundation have jointly provided vaccination guidelines for managing infectious diseases endemic in New Zealand (last published 2014).


New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing will:
  • Continue to support NZEHA activities as a signatory to Government Biosecurity Agreements and initiatives.