Hendra all-clear given for Queensland properties

October 14, 2009

Five remaining properties involved in recent Hendra virus incidents have been released from quarantine in Queensland.

Clear test results received yesterday meant the all-clear for the Cawarral and Bowen properties.

At the peak of the response, 22 properties had movement restrictions in place, including several properties that received horses from the infected property at Cawarral before the presence of the virus was known. This included one property in New South Wales.

Biosecurity Queensland deputy chief veterinary officer Rick Symons said an all-clear was given only after 32 days had elapsed since the time of last exposure, and definitive test results were negative for Hendra virus.

"This is great news for the owners of the properties and I'm sure a weight has been lifted off their shoulders," Symons said.

"This essentially means they can return to normal activities and they no longer have any quarantine measures in place, or any restrictions on horse movements to and from their properties.

"Not only is this is a step forward for the property owners and the communities concerned, but also for Biosecurity Queensland, which can now finalise its response efforts at Cawarral and Bowen."

Symonds thanked the property owners, horse owners, local authorities and local community members involved, "who through no fault of their own found themselves in an extraordinarily challenging situation".

"Their cooperation was critical in effectively responding to these incidents."

The Cawarral outbreak resulted in the death of Rockhampton veterinarian Dr Alister Rodgers.

Dr Symons said the official response of state agencies would be subject to a routine internal review and the findings would guide future response efforts to emergency animal diseases, including Hendra virus.

"Biosecurity Queensland takes Hendra virus extremely seriously and will continue to work with the Australian Animal Health Laboratories, the peak veterinary bodies, key stakeholders to the Queensland horse industry and other research institutions to learn more about the virus so it can be better prevented and managed in the future."