A horse has been confirmed with the dangerous hendra virus in Queensland, just one day after the launch of a vaccine against the disease.
Biosecurity Queensland said the horse returned a positive test late on Friday night.
The state’s chief veterinary officer, Dr Rick Symons, said the horse was first noticed to be sick by its owner on Wednesday afternoon.
A private veterinarian treated the horse as a potential Hendra virus case due to the sudden onset of signs, including neurological problems, lethargy and a poor appetite.
By Thursday afternoon the horse’s condition had deteriorated and a decision was made to euthanise the horse.
Biosecurity Queensland officers have quarantined the property.
“They will also undertake tracing as a priority to assess whether any other animals were at risk of being exposed to the virus,” Symons said.
“Restrictions apply to moving horses and horse materials on and off the infected property, and the property will be quarantined for at least one month.”
Queensland Health’s Public Health were assessing the situation to identify those who were exposed to the infected horse.
Symons said this latest case was the eighth Hendra virus incident in Queensland this year and the second in Ingham.
“This year we have had cases in Townsville, Cairns, Ingham, Mackay, Port Douglas and two cases in Rockhampton. All of these cases have been finalised and quarantines lifted.”
He said horse owners needed to remain vigilant in taking steps to reduce the risk of infection as Hendra virus cases can occur year round.
Symons said the release of the Hendra virus vaccine provided another option for the horse industry in the fight against the virus and horse owners should discuss with their veterinarian whether vaccinating their horses was appropriate.
“However it is important to remember no vaccine is 100 per cent effective and people in contact with horses need to continue to practice good biosecurity and personal hygiene measures even if horses are vaccinated,” he said.
Reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection on properties
- Horse feed and water containers should be removed from under trees. If possible, place feed and water containers under a shelter.
- Owners should inspect and identify flowering/fruiting trees on their property. Horses should be removed from paddocks where flowering/fruiting trees are attracting flying foxes. Horses should be returned only after the trees have stopped flowering/fruiting and the flying foxes have gone. If horses cannot be removed from the paddock, consider fencing (temporary or permanent) to restrict access to flowering/ fruiting trees. Clean up any fruit debris underneath the trees before returning horses.
- If it is not possible to remove horses from paddocks, try to temporarily remove horses during times of peak flying fox activity (usually at dusk and during the night).
- Make sure gear exposed to any body fluids from horses is cleaned and disinfected before it is used on another horse. This includes halters, lead ropes and twitches. Talk to aveterinarian about which cleaning agents and disinfectants to use.
- It is essential that horse owners practise good biosecurity and not travel with, work on or take sick horses to other properties or equestrian events.
- Do not allow visiting horse practitioners, such as farriers, to work on sick horses.
- Seek veterinary advice before bringing any sick horse on to your property.