Hendra Virus

WHAT IS HENDRA VIRUS?

The Hendra Virus (HeV) was first discovered in 1994 in the Brisbane district of Hendra. It is a lethal disease which can spread from horses to people. It is present in flying foxes and has clinically spread to horses (and has also spread to a dog from a horse). The virus has been transmitted from horses to humans. The virus can be transmitted from horse to horse, but has not been shown to spread from human to human at this stage. Infection appears to occur through contact with bodily fluids of an infected being.

 

SYMPTOMS OF POSSIBLE HENDRA VIRUS INFECTION (As stated by the Australian Veterinary Association):

“Clinical signs of Hendra virus infection are varied, vague and similar to many common equine ailments that veterinarians encounter on a daily basis. The Queensland government’s Guidelines for veterinarians handling potential Hendra virus infection in horses states that Hendra virus infection should be considered if a horse may have had contact with flying foxes and any one or combination of the following signs are present:

  • Acute illness
  • Increased temperature
  • Increased heart rate
  • Discomfort or shifting weight between legs
  • Depression or rapid deterioration in health

Horses with confirmed Hendra virus infection have also presented with respiratory, colic, or neurologic signs, weakness, inappetence or behaviour change.

Essentially this indicates that almost any unvaccinated sick horse with potential exposure to flying fox excretions, virus-contaminated objects or other horses may have a Hendra virus infection.”

 

WHAT TO DO IF YOU SUSPECT HENDRA:

  1. Immediately call your local vet (if it’s us, (07) 5543 1213), and act on their advice. They may advise you to phone the DPI and the QLD Primary Industries and Fisheries (QPIF) on 13 25 23 during business hours, or on 1800 675 888 after hours.
  2. Shower and change clothes if you or someone you have come into contact with has handled a sick horse.
  3. Stay away from the affected horse and all other horses. Do not move any horses! Ensure your dogs cannot come into contact with the horses. If you are concerned your dog has had access to an affected horse then limit your contact with your dog also.

 

Humans and horses alike have died from contracting this virus, therefore it is of the utmost importance that we handle any suspected case with extreme caution and care.

For more information, go to: https://www.daf.qld.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/57218/hendra-virus-info-pack-horse-owners.pdf

 

REDUCING THE RISK OF HENDRA

The Hendra virus Infection Prevention Advice published by the Queensland Government Department of Health in October 2014 states:

“The vaccine is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses and provides a work health and safety and public health benefit by the vaccine’s ability to not only protect horses from infection but also to break the cycle of virus transmission from horses to humans. Widespread uptake of the horse vaccine has the potential to significantly reduce the number and risk of human exposures.”

Other strategies that can be implemented to reduce the risk of Hendra Virus transmission include:

  • Keeping feed and water containers under a shelter.
  • Do not plant trees attractive to bats near your paddocks, especially fruiting ones.
  • Remove horses from paddocks where bats roost.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after you touch your horses and avoid touching your face etc. A hand sanitiser sitting out in the paddock near the gate is a great idea.
  • Keep horse gear and equipment clean and wash thoroughly if it comes into contact with bodily fluids.

 

Please follow this link to view our Hendra virus policy: Our Hendra Policy