Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Biosecurity Measures: pre-Iceland

March flew right by and I can hardly believe it's over. It's almost time for my vacation to Iceland! I had this booked several weeks ago because the deal was just too good to pass up! ADW and I will be heading out to whale watch, glacier walk, volcano viewing, horseback riding and checking out some of the other wonderful sights of Iceland.

If you've been following (or just look down at the word cloud), you'll know that I've taken up horseback riding this past year and I've been hooked since. It's pretty much all I think about. So, when the chance to ride in Iceland presented itself, I couldn't say no. That being said though, I have pretty much all the equipment a normal horseman would have... jodpurs/breeches, helmet, boots/shoes, half chaps, gloves and various tops. But, Iceland being an island has strict biosecurity measures that tourists must adhere to.

Anyone with contact to any animal species from their native homes and wish to bring their equipment with them must sanitize everything they own; fishermen, hunters and riders alike. Since I'm riding, I wanted to bring some of the equipment that I already own. I mean I don't know anyone who is happy to share shoes/boots or something on their head. Underwear is a given "no share zone". But the other stuff that goes "outside" seems to be acceptable. To me, this is not acceptable. I am cringing at the thought of doing so.

So far, we've been informed by Frommers that all equipment, including riding clothes, must be sterilized prior to going to Iceland for biosecurity measures. This means that all washable clothing must be washed in +40 deg C and dried in a super hot dryer. Boots/shoes must be washed with a detergent and then sprayed with a disinfectant: Virkon S. While Greenhawk carries this item in small packages and larger pellet containers, the instructions detail some hazardous prevention measures such as the need to wear a protective apron, gloves and mask while mixing the concoction! I also need a vet certification of disinfection if I wish to have this done here. Frommers and online sources have quoted a local company called who does this sort of thing primarily for anglers. The problem is the website is in Icelandic. Talk about not helpful considering most people looking to disinfect their equipment are not from Iceland!!!

In addition to all these seemingly annoying barriers to my entry into this beautiful country, owners in the country are not permitted to import any used leather based horse tack such as saddles or bridles. So far, I've spoken briefly with my small animal vet and she's told me that typically, customs has veterinarians who visit other countries (and who likely visit farms) to not visit any animals 2 weeks prior to the trip and 2 weeks following. While it's likely not too big of a deal, it would be ethically wrong to throw caution to the wind and say that there's nothing to worry about. I mean can you imagine the possibility for instigating an infamous plague: Canadian couple decimates majestic wild Icelandic horse population.

Totally not cool.

Which means that I've got some more research ahead of me and possibly some pain in the bum responses I'll be getting...