Queenland horse dies after contracting Hendra in state’s first case in nearly two years

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A coloured transmission electron micrograph of the Hendra, virus. Photo: The Electron Microscopy Unit of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, part of the CSIRO science agency CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
A coloured transmission electron micrograph of the Hendra, virus. Photo: The Electron Microscopy Unit of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory, part of the CSIRO science agency CC BY 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

A horse euthanized on a property in Queensland, Australia, was suffering from a Hendra infection, test results show.

It is the first case of Hendra in a horse in Queensland since July 2015.

Biosecurity Queensland said word of the positive test result for the horse, which lived in the Gold Coast hinterland, were received late on Thursday.

Queensland’s chief biosecurity officer, Dr Jim Thompson, said the horse was euthanized on the property following its rapid deterioration.

“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,” he said.

“We will work with the property owners to ensure the risk is contained on the property.”

Queensland Health’s Public Health experts were assessing the situation today to determine if any humans had contact with the infected horse.

“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,” he said.

Thompson said the horse had not been vaccinated against the virus.

Vaccination, he said, was the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses.

He urged horse owners to speak to their veterinarian about vaccination.

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

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