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Last Hendra virus property out of quarantine in Queensland

October 6, 2011

The last property under quarantine for Hendra virus in Queensland has been given the all-clear following what has been described as an unprecedented season for the deadly disease.

Queensland chief veterinary officer Dr Rick Symons said a series of negative test results on horses at a property in the Gold Coast hinterland meant that the quarantine could be lifted and horses could again be moved on and off the site.

"The number of cases in Queensland so far this year is certainly unprecedented," he said.

"The focus for us now will be on learning from these experiences and, in particular, focusing on our research into the virus.

"At the height of this year's Hendra virus incidents, 100 horses were being monitored daily, with more than 220 Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation officers contributing towards the responses across the state.

"Unfortunately, 11 horses died from the virus, and for the first time a dog tested positive for Hendra virus antibodies."

Biosecurity Queensland staff visited more than 500 properties in the vicinity of Hendra virus cases over a 13-week response period, Symons said.

"They also attended to more than 80 events including the provision of community information sessions in areas where the community had been affected."

Symons said the recently announced $12 million in funding from Queensland, New South Wales and Australian Governments would expand and accelerate Hendra virus research.

"Each incident we deal with helps increase our knowledge base to work toward a safer environment for horse owners, vets and the community," he said.

"We acknowledge there is much more research needed to understand the virus."

Symons said while there had been no new Hendra virus cases reported recently, people with horses should not become complacent.

"While we have seen a peak in Hendra virus cases over the past few months, I want to stress that it is possible for infections to occur throughout the year," he said.

"Horse owners need to continue to take precautions on their properties to protect their horses from Hendra virus infection.

"They also should be alert to the signs of Hendra virus and call their vet if they have any suspicions."



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