HORSES from a Mornington Peninsula property are among animals from around the state that have recently died from a mystery illness being investigated by health experts.
Agriculture Victoria on Sunday confirmed 10 horses had died suddenly on properties on the peninsula, in south-east Melbourne and south-west Victoria since 4 July.
It has been reported the affected horses died shortly after suddenly falling ill, and local vets and experts are working with the government body to identify possible causes.
Victoria’s chief veterinary officer Dr Graeme Cooke said the investigation was in its early stages.
“It is not yet known what has caused these deaths and to date common links are not evident,” Cooke said.
There had been reports on social media channels of further affected properties.
“While we do not yet have any clear indication of the cause, early testing for some known diseases in horses has been negative,” Cooke said.
“Comprehensive testing for a range of disease and, importantly, non-disease causes, is underway. I thank those owners and veterinarians who have been affected for their assistance in providing information to date.
“As this is early days, every report will help us understand the situation and assist our investigation into finding the cause. Early assessment and collection of a range of samples is important to this type of investigation.
“We know this is a difficult time for horse owners, that’s why we are working with veterinarians and a range of experts to find answers. Please do not share unconfirmed information online or on social media.”
Multiple horse deaths on a single property are uncommon. When they occur, investigations prioritise infectious causes and ingestion of toxins, however it is not always possible to definitively identify a cause.
Horse owners are reminded to make sure their property identification code details are up to date. PICs are free and easy to obtain from the Agriculture Victoria website.
Follow Agriculture Victoria on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.
Horse owners and veterinarians are being urged to report any concerns to local vets, Agriculture Victoria or via the emergency animal disease hotline on 1800 675 888.