Hendra horse vaccine gets formal registration in Australia

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Hendra-injectionThe Hendra virus marketed for horses has received registration from the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).

The vaccine, Equivac HeV, which was released in November 2012, has been available for use under a minor use permit, which expired on Tuesday.

The permit meant that veterinarians could use the vaccine under specific controls, pending full registration.

The authority’s website shows that formal registration was given to the vaccine on the same day the minor-use permit expired.

Authorities have encouraged use of the vaccine, but some horse owners have publicly voiced concerns around side effects.

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) said it welcomed the vaccine’s registration.

“The APVMA’s requirements to register a vaccine are stringent, and there needs to be solid evidence that the vaccine is both effective and safe for it to be approved,” said Dr Ian Fulton, who is president of Equine Veterinarians Australia, a special interest group within the AVA.

“Until now, the vaccine has been available on a temporary permit, and during that time any reactions to the vaccine have been recorded and investigated.

“We welcome the release of information about these adverse reactions by the APVMA, with less than 0.03 percent of doses causing some kind of adverse reaction. This is in line with what our members have told us – that they have seen only small numbers of problems with the vaccine.

“The registration is an important step forward in managing the risks associated with the Hendra virus,” he said.

“The vaccine decreases the risk of exposure to Hendra virus for horse owners, handlers and veterinarians and is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection.

“Of course, it also helps to protect horses against this fatal disease, which is especially important in Queensland and northern New South Wales, where there have been Hendra cases confirmed.”

Fulton said vaccinating horses provided a public health and workplace health-and-safety benefit.

The vaccine was released in response to the growing number of outbreaks and subsequent horse deaths in Queensland and New South Wales.

The APVMA, in its registration details, said potential side-effects included swelling and soreness at the site of vaccination, an increase in body temperature, lethargy, loss of appetite, muscle stiffness and swelling in the joints, skin rashes and colic.

“These symptoms are generally short-lived and are typical of many vaccines,” the website said.

“As with all vaccines, side-effect symptoms may vary in severity and on some occasions may require veterinary intervention.

“Although some side effects may be expected, it is important that people who observe an adverse effect report them to the veterinarian who administered the vaccine, the registration holder, or the APVMA.”

More information is available here on the website of the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicine Authority.

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