August 23, 2008

The Brisbane veterinary clinic at the centre of a Hendra virus outbreak is likely to have its quarantine lifted next week.

The outbreak has taken a terrible toll on the Redlands clinic, with the death if one of its veterinarians, a nurse still in hospital recovering from the hospital, and five horses under its care dead.

Veterinarian Ben Cunneen died this week after five weeks in hospital, the last four in intensive care.

Queensland's chief veterinary officer, Dr Ron Glanville, extended his sincere sympathies to the family of Dr Cunneen.

Dr Glanville and Queensland's chief health officer, Dr Jeanette Young, discussed the Hendra outbreak with reporters at a wide-ranging press conference.

Dr Glanville said there has been a huge amount of research into Hendra since it was identified in 1994.

"We do know a huge amount about Hendra virus. In fact we're recognised internationally now as leaders in this area. We know a lot about the virus in terms of ... the nature of the disease, how it works in the body. We know a lot about the dynamics of the infection of the fruit bat population.

"We also know about its relationship with similar virus or closely related virus called Nipah virus that's also in bat populations in Asia. We know that Hendra virus is basically in ... most bat populations within Australia and Papua New Guinea."

He said the Redlands clinic was still under quarantine. "We're just finalising some test results on the horses there. We're trying to get the quarantine released as soon as we can but we've just got to make sure all those tests are fully needed.