Australian horse euthanised after catching Hendra virus

Hendra virus
Hendra virus

The bat-borne Hendra virus has claimed the life of a horse in the Beenleigh area of Queensland, Australia.

Biosecurity Queensland confirmed today it was managing the case following a positive test result late last night.

One horse was euthanised on the property after becoming unwell over the weekend, Queensland’s acting chief veterinary officer, Dr Allison Crook, said.

“There are two other horses on the property,” Crook said.

“Tracing and risk assessments are being undertaken on any animals that may have had contact with the infected horse to work out if further testing needs to be done.

“We will contact other properties that we believe may have had contact with the infected animal.”

Crook said the property was under quarantine and restrictions had been put in place around the movement of horses and horse materials on and off the property.

The quarantine would be in place for at least a month, she said.

Crook said it was the second case of Hendra virus in Queensland this year.

Hendra virus is carried by native fruit bats. It can be transmitted to horses, with equines appearing most vulnerable in the cooler months.

The virus is able to pass from infected horses to people. Of the seven known cases in people, four have proved fatal.

“Hendra virus infection can occur throughout the year, so it’s important that horse owners take steps to protect themselves and their animals at all times.”

The affected horse had not been vaccinated, she said.

“Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses. It is recommended that horse owners speak to their veterinarian about vaccinating their horses.

“If a horse becomes sick, owners should contact their veterinarian immediately. People in contact with horses need to remember to continue to practice good biosecurity and personal hygiene measures, even if a horse is vaccinated against Hendra virus.”

Specialist staff with Queensland Health are assessing the situation to determine if any humans had contact with the infected horse. They will provide any assistance, counselling, information, testing or treatment that may be required.

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