HENDRA VIRUS

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NSW Biosecurity Update

Hendra Virus case near Murwillumbah
An unvaccinated 31 year old stock horse was found in a dam on a property west of Murwillumbah at about lunch time on Thursday 19th June 2014. It had a low temperature (28o Celcius), was glassy eyed, recumbent, had progressive lip paralysis and intermittent tremors that recurred when stimulated. There was no nasal discharge. The treating veterinarian administered warmed intravenous fluids and collected samples for Hendra virus testing.

The horse later became feverish and died in the early hours of Friday 20th June 2014. The laboratory advised late on 20th June 2014 that all the samples had tested positive to the Hendra virus. The property has been quarantined and the dead horse has been buried. There are 5 other horses on the property which so far remain well. They have been tested and vaccinated and remain under observation. 

There are no dogs or cats on the property and no neighbouring horses. There have been no recent horse movements off the property. There is regular flying fox activity in the area.

Reminders for Horse Owners
This case is a timely reminder of 4 very important things:
1. We are entering the season when Hendra virus is more common i.e. the cooler months of the year. The more common symptoms of Hendra virus include fever, signs of colic, nervous and respiratory symptoms, abnormal behaviour or unexpected deaths. Owners with sick horses should contact their local veterinarian who will notify a Local Lands Service inspector or an inspector with DPI if they consider the case highly suspect for Hendra. If your veterinarian is unavailable, and the illness is progressing rapidly, call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.
2. Horse owners and managers should always practise good hygiene, even when handling healthy horses.
3. Owners should be aware of the risks associated with handling sick horses. The signs of Hendra virus are quite variable so all sick horses should be handled cautiously and carefully.
Children, domestic pets and other companion horses should not contact sick horses.
4. Horse owners should contact their veterinarian to discuss vaccinating their horses for Hendra virus to protect both the horses and their human handlers.

Hendra Vaccination
Hendra Virus vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in both horses and humans. Human infection and deaths have occurred following high-level exposure to body fluids from infected horses. Vaccinating horses is an important measure to prevent this occurring and provides a public health and workplace health and safety benefit.

The vaccine must be administered by a veterinarian. Two doses are required initially. With over 90,000 doses administered across Australia to date, current data indicates that the vaccine is safe and side effects minimal. Some veterinarians may refuse to attend unvaccinated sick horses. Contact your veterinarian for further details about the vaccine.

Click here to download the full Media Release.

Hendra Virus Documentary

It has been a year since the launch of the Hendra vaccine, Equivac HeV. To mark the first anniversary of the launch and to celebrate the organisations and individuals behind the vaccine's development and manufacture, a new documentary has been released titled "A safer tomorrow: our stand against Hendra virus".

The fight against Hendra virus has come a long way and this new documentary explores the growing support within the industry to encourage vaccination and invest in further research, including discussion around the merits of mandatory vaccination.

 The documentary also comes with special features with an additional ten minutes focusing on:

  • Hendra virus research
  • Personal stories relayed by those who have had first-hand experience of the Hendra virus
  • A discussion around the pros and cons of mandatory vaccination

Click here to visit the Health4horses Youtube Channel.

The HHALTER Project: Hendra Virus Research Project and New Survey

The second of five HHALTER surveys was made available for completion from mid May 2013 to mid July 2013. We would like to thank those of you who remained with us for the second survey, in addition to those who joined the HHALTER project in time for the second survey. We hope that you will all stay with us for the remaining three surveys! The HHALTER project aims to ensure that horse people are central to Hendra virus related policy development and research, and your involvement is critical to achieving this goal.

The second survey focused on aspects of personal health and safety, flying foxes and their management, and the (then) recent case of Australian Bat Lyssavirus in a horse. It also enabled us to re-evaluate your Hendra virus risk awareness and perceptions, as well as uptake of vaccination. This Newsletter report contains a brief overview of some of our findings.

The third Survey is now available for new participants. This survey there will be Gift Card giveaway where 20 randomly selected survey respondents will receive a $50 Woolworths Gift Card (that can be spent in a number of stores) when the survey closes on 20th December 2013.

Click here to download the full Newsletter.

Click here to complete the third survey for NEW participants.

Equestrian Australia - EA supports Equestrian NSW policy on Hendra vaccination

Equestrian NSW today announced its policy regarding the Hendra Virus vaccination and requirements for all horses entering EA/FEI events in NSW where any horses stay overnight at the event venue i.e. Hendra Vaccinated Events (HVEs), to be vaccinated against Hendra Virus as of 1st January, 2014.

ENSW is currently in talks with Zoetis, the producer of the Hendra vaccine, to offer the vaccine plus a free follow up shot for EA registered horses only. As part of this initiative, ENSW will also offer a 50% reduction on the cost of online base horse registrations on the proviso that members taking up this offer also vaccinate against Hendra as soon as possible.
More details on the offer from Zoetis for vaccines and when online base horse registrations ready via EA Online will be announced in the coming days. ENSW is also working through processes to enable event organisers to take advantage of the Zoetis database to confirm vaccination status of all horses entered in HVEs to make administration of this policy as simple and effective as possible.

Equestrian Australia (EA) CEO Grant Baldock, said EA welcomed the proactive steps taken by the New South Wales Branch in developing a policy to mitigate the risk of the Hendra virus.

“Since a vaccine for the Hendra virus was released in November 2012, the Equestrian Australia Board has been working with our stakeholders to develop a national policy.

“We applaud Equestrian New South Wales for implementing a state wide policy to mandate vaccination for all horses competing at EA/FEI events where horses are staying at overnight.

“The Equestrian Australia Board is continuing its consultation with our State Branches and we will be moving towards implementing a national policy.

“The vaccination against the Hendra virus is an important breakthrough to help the industry reduce the risk of this disease.

“DPI NSW and Biosecurity Qld advise that the Hendra vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses.

“We also need to continue to educate our event organisers, members and horse owners on the steps they can take at home, on properties and at events to minimise the likelihood of a Hendra virus outbreak.

“As has been our position since the release of Hendra vaccine, we continue to encourage all horse owners to consult their vets regarding vaccination against Hendra,” he said.

Click here to download the full Media Release.

Equestrian NSW - Vaccination of Horses Against Hendra Virus

In the past twelve months the incidence of Hendra Virus infecting horses has increased in NSW with four out of the past seven outbreaks reported occurring in NSW, two in Kempsey. A domestic dog on the Kempsey property was also found to have contracted Hendra Virus.

Hendra Virus can and has caused fatalities in humans and horses.

Equestrian NSW is in no doubt that should a case of Hendra Virus be identified at an EA/FEI event significant consequences to event organisers, venues and indeed ENSW members and their horses would be experienced.

Horses that are in close contact with each other over a length of time are at risk.

Producer of the Hendra Virus vaccine, Zoetis, has rationalized the cost of the vaccine during the initial vaccination phase. Zoetis has an efficient means of tracking vaccinations and EA and its event organisers will be able to take advantage of the Zoetis database for purposes of verifying vaccination status of entries.

The Zoetis vaccine has proven to be an extremely effective and safe vaccine.

Position Statement: Equestrian NSW has a responsibility to its members, horses, event organisers and venues to implement a policy to protect equine and human health for the entire community by all available means.

Widespread vaccination would effectively prevent future human and equine fatalities.

Policy: Equestrian NSW requires that, as of 1 January, 2014, ALL horses attending any Equestrian Australia/FEI event conducted in NSW considered a Hendra Vaccinated Event* (HVE) will be fully protected against Hendra Virus as per the manufacturer’s registered label claim. Event organisers of HVEs must refuse entry to anyone who cannot verify their horses have been fully vaccinated.

IMPORTANT: ENSW advises that should a case/s of Hendra Virus be reported prior to the 1 January, 2014 implementation date for this policy for HVEs, members may be unable to attend any EA/FEI event held in NSW if their horses are not vaccinated.

ENSW members are strongly encouraged to vaccinate ALL their horses, competition or otherwise, if they are at risk. Risk factors include: living in a bat habitat area, humans having close contact with their horses and/or competing against horses from other areas or with unknown vaccination status.

Click here to download the full Media Release.

NSW Biosecurity Update

Hendra Virus confirmed at Kempsey and Macksville
Hendra Virus infection has been confirmed in three unvaccinated horses on three separate and unrelated properties in the Kempsey and Macksville area in the period 5-10 July 2013. None of the properties are linked by any movements and it is likely that flying foxes in flowering or fruiting trees were the source of all of these cases. The owners of each of the horses contacted their local veterinarians.

In each case, the veterinarians considered Hendra virus as a possible cause. Samples were submitted to the State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory and tested positive for Hendra virus infection. All properties are quarantined to prevent the spread of the virus. Following a property assessment, any close contact horses on the properties are vaccinated and monitored for 20 days.

As well as protecting animals from getting Hendra virus infection, vaccination reduces virus shedding making the animal less infectious. Companion animals on the three properties that had close contact with an infected horse have been sampled and will be monitored.

Initial results from all close contact animals on the Macksville and the first Kempsey property are negative. NSW Health has been advised and is providing advice to people who had contact with the horses. The quarantine has been lifted from the property at Macksville where Hendra virus was confirmed in a horse on 7 June 2013. Decontamination and testing of close contact animals has been completed with no evidence of Hendra virus infection.

Biosecurity Precautions
Detection of Hendra virus in four unvaccinated horses in the last month is a reminder to horse owners and people who handle horses to take appropriate precautions. If you notice symptoms of Hendra virus including fever, signs of colic, nervous and respiratory symptoms, abnormal behaviour or unexpected deaths keep everyone away from the horse and call your private veterinarian immediately.

Other animals including dogs should also be kept away. The vet will notify the local Livestock Health and Pest Authority or an inspector with DPI, if they consider the case highly suspect for Hendra. If they are unavailable, and the illness is progressing rapidly, call the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

Even if a horse is vaccinated against Hendra virus, as no vaccine is 100 per cent effective, and because horses are susceptible to a range of viruses, it is important that vets and others in contact with sick horses continue to protect themselves by using gloves, masks and eye protection, and carefully washing their hands after contact with sick animals.

Hendra Vaccination
Horse owners and managers are strongly encouraged to vaccinate their horses against Hendra virus. It is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in both horses and humans. Human infection and deaths have occurred following high-level exposure to body fluids from infected horses.

Vaccinating horses is an important measure to prevent this occurring and provides a public health and workplace health and safety benefit. The vaccine is currently available under a limited permit and must be administered by a veterinarian. With over 30,000 doses administered across Australia to date, current data indicates that the vaccine is safe and side effects minimal.

Vaccinate before itís too late - Special Hendra Vaccine Offer Until 31st July 2013

The Equine Podiatry and Lameness Centre would like to encourage you to take advantage of a very special offer on the Hendra virus vaccine, until July 31.
 
We have partnered with Zoetis, the vaccine manufacturer, to bring you a heavily subsidised price on the second dose of vaccine.
 
Until July 31, receive the first dose of vaccine for $130.50 and then enjoy the second dose for just $65.00, including travel costs. If your horse is not microchipped, an extra $38 for the cost of a microchip will be added to the first dose price.
 
If you are aware of the Hendra Virus, you know the risks it poses to your family, your horses and yourself, and we encourage you to take advantage of this opportunity to vaccinate. If you are not aware of the Hendra virus, you can find more information at www.health4horses.com.au.
 
The risk of Hendra virus is at its highest over the winter months, making this the perfect time to vaccinate your horses. It’s an unpredictable virus, which makes vaccination even more important.
 
We now know that the duration of immunity of the vaccine is six months, and has an adverse reaction rate of just 0.22%. Vaccination is the best tool we have in the fight against Hendra virus, which is why we recommend you vaccinate your horses.
 
Equivac HeV is not a registered chemical product and an application for registration has been made.

The Equine Podiatry and Lameness Centre, Muswellbrook will be doing a Hendra vaccination day at the Denman Pony Club grounds on 26th July.
Due to the recent number of confirmed Hendra virus cases in horses in New South Wales, the Equine Podiatry and Lameness Centre will be holding a vaccination day on Friday the 26th of July at the Denman Pony Club from 9.30am-2.30pm. Depending upon the number of people interested in vaccinating their horses, another vaccine day may be scheduled on Saturday the 27th of July from 9.30am-11.30am. If you would like to book an appointment or you have any further questions please contact Jo Holt on 0409 225 911 or email at joanna.holt@sconeequine.com.au

By vaccinating against Hendra virus, you are not only protecting your horses from the deadly disease, but you are also protecting your families, friends and horse health professionals.

To take advantage of this special offer, or if you have any questions about the Hendra Virus, please call us on 02 6543 2000.

AHIC Hendra Virus Update

So far this year there have been 6 confirmed cases in Queensland and New South Wales. The last 3 have been diagnosed during the last few days and another horse has yet to be excluded.
 
There has been limited information about the clinical background but one case at least was seen as a “sick” horse.
 
There has also been limited detail about the management of the horses but in the latest confirmed case there is so far no reported association with flying foxes.
 
Horse owners with sick horses where there is a concern that Hendra virus may be involved should handle the horse as little as possible, preferably using disposable gloves. The sick horse should be isolated and a veterinarian called.

In the cases this year it appears that there has been excellent use of appropriate protective clothing by veterinarians which is good to hear. Whilst transmission of Hendra virus from horses to humans is rare if it occurs, the consequences may be fatal.

Using disposable plastic gloves with minimal contact to move a sick horse into isolation should be a very low risk issue.
 
Horse owners should remember sensible management practices as suggested below.
 
There is an excellent vaccine available for horse owners in higher Hendra virus risk areas to consider using. This decision should be made in consultation with their local veterinarian.
 
It would be helpful if the background details of the 6 cases seen this year were made available as it may assist other horse owners in making a more appropriate risk analysis for their own circumstances. There is still much uncertainty in regard to Hendra cases so any additional information can only be of benefit. Accordingly AHIC is talking with the various Ministers and CVO’s in an endeavour to get more background information about the current Hendra cases released to assist horse owners to use this information to make informed decisions.  We will advise the outcome of these discussions asap.
 
A Hendra Virus Information for Horse Owners Pack is available on the Biosecurity Queensland website.

Steps to reducing the risk of Hendra virus:

  • Talk to your veterinarian about the option of vaccinating your horse against Hendra virus.
  • Horse feed and water containers should be removed from under trees. If possible, place feed and water containers under a shelter.
  • Owners should inspect and identify flowering/fruiting trees on their property. Horses should be removed from paddocks where flowering/fruiting trees are attracting flying foxes. Horses should be returned only after the trees have stopped flowering/fruiting and the flying foxes have gone. If horses cannot be removed from the paddock, consider fencing (temporary or permanent) to restrict access to flowering/ fruiting trees. Clean up any fruit debris underneath the trees before returning horses.
  • If it is not possible to remove horses from paddocks, try to temporarily remove your horses during times of peak flying fox activity (usually at dusk and during the night).
  • Ensure that sick horses are isolated from other horses, people and animals until a veterinarian’s opinion is obtained.
  • If there is more than one horse on your property, handle unaffected horses first and then only handle sick horses after taking appropriate precautions.
  • Make sure gear exposed to any body fluids from horses is cleaned and disinfected before it is used on another horse. This includes halters, lead ropes and twitches. Talk to your veterinarian about which cleaning agents and disinfectants to use.
  • When cleaning contaminated equipment from a sick horse, wear gloves, cover any cuts or grazes and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • It is essential that horse owners practise good biosecurity and not travel with, work on or take sick horses to other properties or equestrian events.
  • Do not allow visiting horse practitioners (e.g. farriers) to work on sick horses.
  • Seek veterinary advice before bringing any sick horse onto your property.      

For more information on Hendra virus, visit www.qldhorsecouncil.com or www.biosecurity,qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23. For information on the vaccine, visit www.health4horses.com.au

Queensland Property Quarantined After Horse Dies From Hendra Virus

Health authorities are investigating a new case of Hendra virus at a property in the Brisbane Valley.

Biosecurity Queensland is in the process of quarantining the property after a horse fell sick at Lowood over the weekend and died.

Test results received late last night came back positive for the Hendra virus.

Local health officials have released a statement saying four people have been identified as having had some contact with the sick horse.

But they say the risk is extremely low and there will not be further intervention.

Authorities are now testing a number of other horses that may have come in contact with the infected animal at the property.

It is the third separate case of Hendra virus in Queensland this year.

Chief biosecurity officer Dr Jim Thompson says there will be a close watch on about 20 other horses on the property.

"Testing regimes and the quarantine programs on site last about 30 days so it's a process of working through that," he said.

'Consider vaccination'
He says owners should consider giving their horses a recently released vaccine.

"Obviously there's a major Hendra research effort being undertaken," he said.

"I guess they fast-tracked the production of the vaccine, which is clearly now on the market.

"The vaccine is still developing and obviously a few months ago there was information from the company that they've done further testing and it's lasting longer, so they've been encouraging people to use that."

Dr Thompson says his team will try to work out whether anyone else was exposed to the sick horse during the contamination period.

"They're working through what they call a 'risk-assessment' to assess the risk to other horses, the risk to the situation there to make sure it's locked down," he said.

"Obviously the property in quarantine. We'll get those details thereafter off the property today."

Click here to view the full media release.

Hendra Virus - Biosecurity Bulletin

Hendra vaccination
Horse owners and managers are strongly encouraged to vaccinate their horses against Hendra virus. It is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in both horses and humans. Human infection and deaths have occurred following high-level exposure to body fluids from infected horses. Vaccinating horses is an important measure to prevent this occurring and provides a public health and workplace health and safety benefit.

The vaccine is currently available under a limited permit and must be administered by a veterinarian. With over 30,000 doses administered across Australia to date, current data indicates that the vaccine is safe and side effects minimal.

Contact you veterinarian for further details about the vaccine.

Hendra Virus confirmed near Macksville
An unvaccinated 12 year old Anglo Arabian mare was found dead on a 110 hectare property North West of Macksville on the Mid North coast on June 5th 2013. The mare had been observed grazing earlier in the day by its owners and appeared normal.

The owner contacted the local Livestock Health and Pest Authority office in Kempsey and the District Veterinarian visited the property the next morning and collected blood and swabs for Hendra virus testing. The samples tested positive for Hendra virus infection at the State Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory at Menangle.

The property has been quarantined and the dead horse buried. There is one other horse on the property and it is currently healthy. It has now been vaccinated against Hendra by the veterinarian. As well as protecting animals from getting Hendra virus infection, vaccination has also been shown to reduce shedding in animals infected by Hendra virus making them less infectious. This horse as well as three dogs and two cats have all been tested for evidence of exposure to the virus and all have returned negative results to the initial tests. Further testing and daily monitoring will be carried out on these animals before the property will be released from the quarantine. All the animals remain well.

NSW Health advises that three family members and a vet were assessed for potential exposure to the infectious horse. None had any exposure of concern.

Biosecurity precautions
As no vaccine is 100 per cent effective, and because horses are susceptible to a range of viruses, it is important that vets and others in contact with sick horses continue to protect themselves by using gloves, masks and eye protection, and carefully wash their hands after contact with sick animals.

If your horse is sick or dies always seek veterinary advice. The recent Hendra case in Macksville and the Lyssavirus cases in horses in Queensland last month both highlight the value of veterinary investigations of sick or dead horses. Keep contact (human and other animals) with sick or dead animals to a minimum and maintain good hygiene.

Click here to view the full media release.

Hendra Virus Research Project (HHALTER) - Second Survey Now Available

The HHALTER project (Horse owners and Hendra Virus: A Longitudinal cohort study To Evaluate Risk) is funded through the National Hendra Virus Research Program and is focused on people involved with horses. The aim is to ensure that they are at the centre of Hendra virus-related policy and research.
  
Over 1,100 people took part in our first survey, and around 70% gave us their contact details. We are going directly to those people with a personalised link to the second survey – this allows us to match up their first and second survey responses. However, we are very keen to have new people join the project now that the second survey is available.
  
A link to the second survey for NEW participants is included below:
 
HHALTER Survey 2 for new participants

In this second survey we have a continued focus on VACCINATION as this is an area of ongoing interest. We also have a focus on PERSONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY and on FLYING FOX MANAGEMENT. Finally, we have added some questions about the recent case of lyssavirus in a horse in Queensland.
 
We are able to send out paper copy questionnaires to those who do not have email/internet access. If you have members who might prefer to respond using this method they can leave their mailing details on our phone line (02) 9685 9591.  We would like to encourage people from ALL States and Territories (not only those in high Hendra virus risk areas) to take part in the project.

Hendra Vaccine

The Australian Stock Horse Society welcomes the introduction of a vaccine for HENDRA and will leave it to the discretion of their Members as to the use of the vaccine. We, as the Society, are concerned with the following areas:

  • Lack of consultation between the government, the vaccine company and the horse industry during the development
    and release of the vaccine.
  • How frequently booster doses will be required for ongoing protection.
  • No data yet exists that has established the safety and efficacy of the vaccine in pregnant mares or animals intended for breeding, therefore the use in such animals must be weighed against the risk of being infected with HENDRA.
  • Minimal data exists on adverse reactions and to what extent they may interfere with the performance of the horse.
  • The strict requirements for the primary course of vaccine. The first 2 doses must be given exactly 21 days apart otherwise the course will be voided (this is a strict condition of the Minor Use Permit). There will be logistical issues if horses are transported elsewhere after their first dose.
  • The Pfizer HENDRA virus vaccination registry has not yet been expanded to allow access to non-veterinarians, including industry associations, so a horse’s vaccination status cannot easily be determined by The Australian Stock Horse Society.
  • There are still issues to resolve with the export of vaccinated horses to countries that demand “HENDRA-free” status.
    Vaccination leads to a positive antibody titre and a DIVA (differentiate infected versus vaccinated animals) test is not yet available commercially. It is unknown what NZ MAFF stance is on this issue.
  • The Australian Veterinarian Association (AVA) hopes that even after full registration, the vaccine will continue to be vet only to ensure compliance with record keeping requirements, but this will be debatable.

Click here to view the full media release.

Hendra Symptoms for Cairns and Rockhampton Cases & Mackay Update

Cairns case
Biosecurity Queensland is managing a Hendra virus incident at an equestrian centre near Cairns after a positive test result was received on 27th July 2012.

The property manager contacted a private veterinarian after discovering a horse was sick on Wednesday 25th July 2012. The horse died on 27th July 2012 and was reported as showing a range of clinical signs including:

  • inappetent
  • tremors
  • neurological signs - worse on handling
  • slight nasal discharge
  • elevated heart and respiratory rate
  • fever
  • grinding teeth
  • blood from nose at death.

The property has been quarantined and Biosecurity Queensland are conducting tracing and risk assessments to determine susceptible animals that may have had potential exposure to the virus.

Rockhampton case
Two horses were euthanased last week on a quarantined property near Rockhampton where a foal died of Hendra virus infection on 15th July 2012.

The horses became acutely ill and were reported to be showing the following clinical signs:
Horse 1: off-food; reluctant to move; extended neck; muscle fasciculation; and increased respiratory effort.

Horse 2: off-food; dull demeanour; reluctant to move; hanging head; drooping bottom lip; ataxia; mild increase in respiratory effort; pawing ground.

Mackay case
Biosecurity Queensland continues to manage a property near Mackay, quarantined after a positive test result for Hendra virus was received from a horse on 27th June 2012.

Click here to view the full media release.

Hendra Virus Update: Cairns Incident

Biosecurity Queensland is working with the operators of a Cairns equestrian centre to manage the latest case of Hendra virus infection. The centre has been quarantined.

Laboratory testing has confirmed that a horse that died on the property yesterday morning was infected with the virus.

Queensland Chief Veterinarian Dr Rick Symons said Biosecurity Queensland officers had spent the day on the property assessing how many other horses may have been exposed.

"There have been quite a few other horses moving on and off the site in recent weeks," he said.

"We are conducting tracing of these horses and speaking to the owners."

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said to date, public health experts had identified five (5) people who had contact with the infected horse near Cairns.

"Public health staff have conducted thorough assessments today and all contacts have had a low level of exposure to the sick horse," Dr Young said.

"We acknowledge that these are difficult circumstances for these people. Our public health staff will continue to consult with them to ensure they are provided with all the information and support they require.

"I can also confirm that the woman assessed as having a high level of exposure to a horse infected with Hendra virus near Rockhampton, remains in a stable condition.

"The patient does not have any symptoms of Hendra virus infection.

"The patient does not wish any further information be released at this time."

This is the sixth Hendra virus incident in Queensland this year. One property at Rockhampton and two properties near Mackay remain under quarantine after recent confirmed cases of Hendra virus infection.

The latest ‘Guidelines for veterinarians handling potential Hendra virus infections in horses’ has been updated and is readily available for veterinarians at www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au

For more information on Hendra virus contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au

Follow Biosecurity Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@BiosecurityQld).

New Hendra virus Case in Cairns Area

Biosecurity Queensland is quarantining a property in the Cairns area after a horse returned an initial positive test for Hendra virus infection.

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Rick Symons said the horse was sick on Wednesday (25th July 2012) when it was seen by a private veterinarian.

“The horse was sampled yesterday and results have come back today as positive,” he said.

“The horse died this morning. Tracing is being conducted to indentify other animals that may have come into contact with the deceased horse.

“There are known to be a number of other horses on the property.

“Movement restrictions will apply to horses and horse materials on and off the infected property throughout the quarantine period.”

Queensland Health's public health experts will travel to the property to assess the situation and undertake contact tracing work to ensure all people potentially exposed to the sick horse have been identified.

Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young reassured the community that transmission of the virus required close contact with body fluids of the sick horse.

"Queensland Health stands ready to provide any assistance, counselling, information, testing or treatment that may be required."

Anyone who is concerned should contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).

This is the sixth Hendra virus incident in Queensland this year. One property at Rockhampton and two properties near Mackay remain under quarantine after recent confirmed cases of Hendra virus infection.

New Hendra Virus Case in Rockhampton

Biosecurity Queensland is managing a new Hendra virus case near Rockhampton after a positive test result was received last night, Wednesday 18th July 2012.

A seven month old foal was noticed to be acutely ill on Saturday 14th July 2012 and received treatment from a private veterinarian. The condition of the horse deteriorated and it died early on the morning of Sunday 15th July 2012.

The horse was reported as having a raised temperature and displaying neurological signs, including wobbly gait, apparent blindness, droopy lips and salivation.

The property has been quarantined under the Exotic Diseases in Animals Act 1981.There are a number of animals on the property and adjoining properties.

Tracing is underway to determine what contact the infected horse had with other animals on all properties.

The case is not related to the previous Hendra virus incident which occurred in Rockhampton in May 2012.

Movement restrictions
Restrictions on the quarantined properties apply to the movement of animals, and other items onto and off the properties.

No other movement restrictions for Hendra virus are in place for horses in Queensland.

There are currently no restrictions on holding horse events in Queensland.

For information and guidelines for holding equestrian activities, event organisers and competitors can visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au

Personal protective equipment rebate
The Queensland Government has implemented a personal protective equipment (PPE) rebate program for veterinarians, available from 1st July 2012.

The rebate program has been designed to assist and encourage veterinarians to use PPE for themselves and any other person who may be assisting with the sampling, treatment or examination of horses suspected of being infected with Hendra virus.

All veterinarians have a responsibility to ensure that appropriate PPE is worn by themselves and anyone who is assisting them with the sampling, treatment or examination of horses suspected of being infected with Hendra virus.

For information on the program, visit the www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au.

To view the full official media release please click here.

Hendra Virus and Personal Safety

People have in the past been exposed to HeV while handling infected horses. This has included sick live horses and dead horses at autopsy examinations. A major problem has been handlers not considering HeV at the time, and thus exposure occurring before the horse was diagnosed.  

This means that people need to be more aware of possible cases and carefully consider safety whenever HeV is suspected. HeV can cause a life-threatening illness; you should therefore be cautious with suspected HeV cases and ensure the personal safety of yourself and others.

  • Wash your hands with soap and water regularly during and after handling multiple horses.
  • If in contact with sick horses, shower with soap and shampoo and dress in clean clothes and footwear before handling other horses.
  • Disposable overalls, masks, simple safety glasses and disposable gloves should become a part of normal precautions when treating sick horses. All are cheap and readily available.

The Queensland Horse Council also stresses the need to be aware that Hendra virus can occur wherever there are flying foxes and horses, and because of the large area that flying foxes travel over, infection can occur across a large proportion of the state and at any time of the year. For information about how you can reduce the risks to yourself and your horse please read our fact sheets:-

Update for the Hendra Virus Case in Mackay

Three properties remain under quarantine for Hendra virus in Mackay after a positive test result was received from a horse on 27th June 2012.

All samples have returned negative results for Hendra virus to date and all animals are reported as remaining healthy.

The third and final round of sampling will be undertaken next week.

New Hendra Virus Case in Mackay

Biosecurity Queensland is managing a new Hendra virus incident near Mackay after a positive test result was received last night, 27 June 2012.

The property manager contacted a veterinarian after discovering a horse was gravely ill on Tuesday, 26 June 2012.

The horse had not been seen for several days and was found lying down. The private veterinarian took samples and the horse was euthanased and buried on the property.

There are a number of other animals including horses on the property and on adjoining properties. Tracing is underway to determine what contact the infected horse had with other animals on all properties.

The property has been quarantined.

Movement restrictions
Restrictions will apply to moving horses and horse materials on and off the infected property, and the property will be quarantined for at least one month.

Horse owners need to remain vigilant in taking steps to reduce the risk of infection as Hendra virus can occur year round but is more common during the cooler months. If a horse becomes sick, owners should contact their veterinarian immediately as happened in this case.

Rockhampton and Ingham cases
Testing is continuing on both the Ingham and Rockhampton properties which are still under quarantine.

To view the full official media release please click here.

Further Positive Hendra Virus Results

First round test results were received last night for samples taken from animals quarantined on two properties – one near Rockhampton and the other near Ingham.

Rockhampton Case
Two horses on the Rockhampton property where a horse died of Hendra virus on the 26th May 2012 have returned positive test results.
 
The two horses have not shown any clinical signs.
 
There are eight horses remaining on the property. The other six horses have returned negative results.
 
Biosecurity Queensland officers were on the property this morning and re-sampled the eight horses to corroborate the results.
 
Ingham Case
A positive result was received on a sample from one dog on the Ingham property where a horse died of Hendra virus on 28th May 2012.
 
Biosecurity Queensland officers were on the property this morning and re-sampled the dog. Further testing on the dog is needed for corroboration as three out of the four samples collected from the dog were negative.
 
There are five horses, five dogs and three cats being monitored and tested on this property.
 
All other first round test results have been negative.

More information
All horse owners are encouraged to remain vigilant about the health of their horses.
 
Frequently asked questions and answers about dogs and Hendra virus are available at www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au
 
Hendra virus information pack for horse owners outlines how to reduce the risk of horses becoming infected with Hendra virus is available on the Biosecurity Queensland website.
 
Notify suspected Hendra virus cases by contacting Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 (business hours) or the Emergency
Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 (24-hour hotline).
 
Contact your GP, local Queensland Health Emergency Department or local Public Health Unit if you have concerns about possible exposure of people to a horse with Hendra virus infection.
 
For general enquiries about the infection of Hendra virus in humans, call the Queensland Health Hotline on 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84) or visit www.health.qld.gov.au

For information about managing Hendra virus risks at workplaces, contact Workplace Health and Safety Queensland on 1300 369 915 or visit www.worksafe.qld.gov.au

Two New Hendra Virus Cases Confirmed

Biosecurity Queensland is managing two new Hendra virus cases - one near Rockhampton and the other near Ingham - after positive test results were received late last night.

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rick Symons said a horse died on Saturday (26th May 2012) on a property near Rockhampton with test results confirming the horse had Hendra virus. There are other horses on the property - these animals will be assessed today.

Dr Symons said a horse had also died on a property in Ingham on Monday (28th May 2012) with results confirming it had Hendra virus infection. Five horses remain on this property and will be assessed today.

"Biosecurity Queensland is in the process of quarantining the properties and will test and monitor the other horses at these locations over the next month," Dr Symons said.

"Tracing will be a priority to determine what contact the deceased horses may have had with other animals."

"Movement restrictions will apply to moving horses and horse materials on and off the infected properties."

Queensland Health's Public Health experts will travel to both properties today to assess the situation and determine whether any humans had contact with the infected horses and require testing. 

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young reassured the community that transmission of the virus required close contact with body fluids of the sick horse. 

"Queensland Health staff will continue to undertake contact tracing work to ensure all people potentially exposed to the sick horse have been identified," Dr Young said.

"Queensland Health stands ready to provide any assistance, counselling, information, testing or treatment that may be required."

"Anyone who is concerned should contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
 
Since the start of 2011 until now there has been 11 Hendra virus incidents in Queensland resulting in the death or euthanasia of 14 horses and one dog. These two new cases brings the total for 2011 and 2012 to 13 cases and 16 horse deaths.

For more information, including the latest guidelines for veterinarians on Hendra virus, contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au

Follow Biosecurity Queensland on Facebook and Twitter (@BiosecurityQld).

Facts for horse owners - Reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection on your property:

  • Horse feed and water containers should be removed from under trees. If possible, place feed and water containers under a shelter.
  • Owners should inspect and identify flowering/fruiting trees on their property. Horses should be removed from paddocks where flowering/fruiting trees are attracting flying foxes. Horses should be returned only after the trees have stopped flowering/fruiting and the flying foxes have gone. If horses cannot be removed from the paddock, consider fencing (temporary or permanent) to restrict access to flowering/ fruiting trees. Alternatively, try to temporarily remove horses during times of peak flying fox activity (usually at dusk and during the night). Clean up any fruit debris underneath the trees before returning horses.
  • Ensure that sick horses are isolated from other horses, people and animals until a veterinarian´s opinion is obtained. Try to avoid close contact with a sick horse and personal protective equipment such as safety glasses, masks and gloves should be worn if handling a suspected sick horse.

Horse Owner Survey on Hendra virus

This survey is being conducted and funded by the Queensland Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Biosecurity Queensland.

This survey is aimed to assess horse owners’ husbandry management practices for their horse(s) and their perception and attitude toward Hendra virus.

The information you provide will be used to inform support agencies on Hendra virus risk management planning and recommendations. In addition, this study will provide the opportunity to gauge the level of information on Hendra virus received by horse owners and whether an information gap exists.

The survey findings will be reported back to all leading support agencies including Biosecurity Queensland and Biosecurity New South Wales, and the horse industry sectors upon request.

Your information will also be of value to those working in human health planning, and will help improve response to any similar threats in the future.

Click here to complete the survey.

QLD Hendra Virus Update

A deceased horse on a property in the Townsville area has returned a positive test result for Hendra virus infection.

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Rick Symons said the horse had shown rapid onset of illness.

“The horse died on Tuesday and the positive result for the virus came back late last night,” Dr Symons said.

“The veterinarian who attended the horse used the proper precautions including the use of personal protective equipment (PPE).

“Biosecurity Queensland is in the process of quarantining this property and will test and monitor the other five horses at this location over the next month.”

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said public health experts would visit the property today to assess the situation and determine how many people, if any, had contact with the infected horse.

"Queensland Health staff will continue to undertake contact tracing work to ensure all people potentially exposed to the sick horse have been identified," Dr Young said.

"Queensland Health stands ready to provide any assistance, counselling, information, testing or treatment that may be required."

Dr Symons said a Hendra virus case in the middle of summer was unusual, although it had occurred before.

“There was a previous case in the Townsville area in December 2004,” he said.

“Even though the majority of cases tend to occur in the July-September period, we have consistently said that Hendra virus infection can occur throughout the year.

”Horse owners should not be complacent and as much as possible keep horses away from areas where there is flying fox activity.

“We will deal with this latest case just as we have with previous cases through a process of quarantine, testing and monitoring.

“In each Hendra virus incident the property has been isolated and there has been no spread of the infection to another property.”

The Queensland Horse Council stresses the need to be aware that Hendra virus can occur wherever there are flying foxes and horses, and because of the large area that flying foxes travel over, cases can occur across a large proportion of the state and at any time of year. For information about how you can reduce the risks to yourself and your horse please read the Queensland Horse Council fact sheets:-

SA Hendra Virus Update

Biosecurity SA is continuing to monitor the current outbreak of Hendra virus in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

While there has never been a case of Hendra virus in horses detected in South Australia horse owners need to be aware that this is a possibility. Horse owners should take steps to minimise the potential for contact between the flying foxes and their horses.

To view the official media release please click here.

QLD Hendra Virus Update

A second horse has been euthanased at a Beachmere property after returning a positive test result for Hendra virus infection. Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Rick Symons said this was one of the two remaining horses at the Beachmere property where a horse was euthanased last Tuesday.

“Samples were taken for Hendra virus testing from the two horses remaining on the property and we received a positive result for one of these horses,” Dr. Symons said. “Three horses have now died at this property in the past fortnight. One was euthanased almost two weeks ago after becoming seriously ill and being diagnosed as suffering from colic. No samples from that horse are available for testing and we will not be able to confirm if that horse was actually infected by Hendra virus.”

Dr. Symons said the property would remain under quarantine until at least late November. This Hendra virus incident is the tenth in Queensland this year and this latest case is the thirteenth horse to be infected with the virus.

QLD Hendra Virus Update

A sick horse on a property in the Caboolture area has been euthanased after returning a positive test result for Hendra virus infection. Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Rick Symons said the horse had become sick over the weekend and was treated by a private veterinarian.

“Samples were taken for Hendra virus testing and the positive result came back late last night,” Dr. Symons said. “Another horse was euthanased at this property over a week ago. Biosecurity Queensland is seeking samples from that horse as well to test for Hendra virus. "There are two remaining horses on the property. Biosecurity Queensland is in the process of quarantining the property and will assess and monitor the other horses at this location over the next month.”

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeannette Young said public health experts would visit the property today to assess the situation and determine how many humans, if any, had contact with the infected horse. “Queensland Health staff will continue to undertake contact tracing work to ensure all people potentially exposed to the sick horse have been identified,” Dr. Young said.

"Queensland Health stands ready to provide any assistance, counselling, information, testing or treatment that may be required. I can also confirm that the follow up results are negative for all 66 people being monitored from previous Hendra virus cases this year.” Dr. Symons said this incident was the tenth in Queensland this year and this was the twelfth horse to be infected with the virus.

“We have consistently said that Hendra virus infection can occur throughout the year and we remind horse owners not to become complacent, but remain vigilant for the signs of Hendra virus at all times” he said. “We will deal with this latest case just as we have with previous cases through a process of quarantine, testing and monitoring.

“Each incident this year has been isolated and there has been no spread of the infection from one property to another. Our focus remains on learning from these experiences and pursuing a range of avenues of research using the $12 million in funding provided by the Commonwealth, Queensland and New South Wales governments.”

Up to date information on Hendra virus is available at www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au, including important workplace health and safety information for horse properties and other horse related businesses, and details of upcoming public information sessions.

For more information contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au.

NSW Hendra Virus Update

There are currently no properties quarantined in NSW, with all previously infected properties declared safe by NSW authorities.

NSW Minister for Primary Industries Katrina Hodgkinson has today announced new research projects aimed at protecting our equine industry from the deadly Hendra virus.

“$5 million has been allocated to five research projects looking at vital issues such as how the virus is transmitted, vaccine development, flying fox dispersal, transmission in dogs and testing and risk management strategies,” Katrina Hodgkinson said.
“The research projects are being coordinated through the cross-border Hendra taskforce, which includes Chief Veterinary Officers, Chief Health Officers and Chief scientists from both states as well as CSIRO representatives.

“The NSW Government’s world-renowned Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute will lead a $900,000 study looking at virology issues, including new state-of-the-art testing techniques and how various animals, including horses, dogs and cats, contract and respond to the deadly disease. “The project will provide vital intelligence to both Government authorities and private veterinarians on the risk factors that lead to transmission and how we can take steps to prevent infection of other horses, and critically, humans.

“An epidemiologist from NSW’s Wollongbar Primary Industries Institute is also closely involved in research projects looking at the transmission of the virus from flying foxes to horses and the impact flying fox dispersal has on virus infection levels. The research teams bring together some of the world’s leading thinkers in epidemiology, virology, veterinary science, and zoonotic and human health fields."

Katrina Hodgkinson said this year has been the largest outbreak of Hendra the two States have seen. “In NSW the virus claimed ten horse deaths at eight properties, all on the NSW North Coast,” Katrina Hodgkinson said. “These critical new research projects aim to get to the bottom of this year’s spike and look at new ways to reduce further cases in the future and ultimately minimise the risk of human infection.

“Hendra is a deadly virus and the NSW Government is taking every precaution possible to protect the health of our community and the State’s valuable horse industries. From one end of the State to the other, NSW Department of Primary Industries and the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities are working with landholders and private veterinarians to undertake extensive surveillance of suspect cases. NSW authorities have assessed some 220 properties since we identified the first case at Wollongbar back in June 2011.”

Guidelines for the Management of Suspect Hendra Cases at Horse Events

NSW Hendra Virus Update: Guidelines for the management of suspect Hendra cases at horse events - 29th September 2011
Please click here for more details.

The Facts about Hendra Virus

Hendra virus infection confirmed in dog

The Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong has confirmed that a dog has tested positive for Hendra virus. Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr. Rick Symons said this was an unprecedented situation. “This is the first time outside of a laboratory that an animal other than a flying fox or a horse, or a human, has been confirmed with Hendra virus infection,” Dr. Symons said.

“The dog is on a property where Hendra virus infection has been confirmed and is currently under quarantine. Biosecurity Queensland’s policy is to test cats and dogs on properties where there are infected horses. In this case, the dog returned two negative results for the presence of the virus but a different type of test conducted at AAHL has confirmed the presence of antibodies. This means that at some point the dog has been exposed to the virus but to our knowledge has shown no signs of illness.”

Dr. Symons said this case raised many questions for biosecurity and health officials and researchers. “We don’t know how the dog contracted the virus or when it happened,” he said. “Based on our knowledge to date, it is most likely that the dog caught the virus from an infected horse. The remaining horses and dogs on this property are still being monitored daily and show no signs of illness. Biosecurity Queensland has tested other cats and dogs on the eleven properties currently under quarantine in Queensland and has received no other positive results. We recommend that people keep dogs and cats away from sick horses to reduce the risk of such an infection happening.”

Queensland's Chief Health Officer Dr. Jeannette Young said Queensland Health would today speak with the property owners to assess if there were any further people who may have had contact with the infected dog. "We will continue to monitor the property owners and all previously identified contacts for infected horses on this property," Dr. Young said. "While we have not seen Hendra virus in a dog before, I believe there is a minimal risk of infection to humans from this animal. For a human to become infected, they would have had to have significant contact with bodily secretions (saliva and/or blood) that contain the Hendra virus."

Dr. Young said Queensland Health continued to have a number of staff working on the Hendra response, including public health officials, medical and testing staff. "Staff are also available to assist anyone with concerns via 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84), and mental health staff are on standby to provide counselling or support," she said.

NSW Guidelines for Horse Event Organisers and Competitors

Horses at events have the potential to spread infectious disease. All event participants have a responsibility to maintain good biosecurity, and not put the health of other people’s horses at risk.

Please click here to download the NSW DPI guidelines.

Facts for Horse Owners

Please click here to download a fact sheet on Hendra Virus, including how to minimise your risk of Hendra for yourself and your horse. Courtesy of Equine Veterinarians Australia.

QLD Hendra Virus Contacts

QLD Hendra Virus Contacts
Click here to view the Hendra Virus Community Engagement Calendar.

Notify suspected Hendra virus cases by contacting Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 (during business hours) or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 (24-hour hotline).

More information is available at www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au. If you have missed any information that has been previously distributed by Biosecurity Queensland, visit the News and Updates page on the website.

For human related enquiries, contact the Queensland Health Hotline on 13HEALTH (13 43 25 84). For workplace health and safety enquiries, contact Workplace Health and Safety Queensland on 1300 369 915. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.

Australian Stock Horse Society Supports Hendra Virus Research

Recently the Board presented a donation of $5,000 to the University of Queensland’s Alistair Rodgers Memorial Fund, which was set up by the Rockhampton veterinarian’s family after he lost his life to Hendra Virus in 2009. The Society’s donation will be used to further the development of a post infection treatment for those people unlucky enough to be exposed to the Hendra Virus.

On Tuesday 14th December 2010, Chairman John Green and Director Peter Allan visited the new Queensland Veterinary School, located at Gatton College, to make the formal presentation to Professor John Hill. Mr Green and Mr Allan received a warm welcome and were given a tour of the new Equine Clinic, a world-class facility which commenced operation in October 2010 and is open to the horse owning public.

It was a very satisfying exercise to present this donation on behalf of the Society and to know that Member funds will be used in a very practical way. Hopefully this will help prevent any further loss of life as a result of this deadly virus.


Caption (Left to Right): Dr Wendy Goodwin and Dr Susan Keane from the Equine Hospital, Veterinary School Dean - Professor John Hill , John Green and Peter Allan.

Biosecurity Queensland confirm new Hendra virus incident

Biosecurity Queensland is managing another case of Hendra virus infection on a property outside Bowen in North Queensland after test results on a deceased horse came back positive for the virus.

Deputy Chief Veterinary Officer, Rick Symons said last week a private vet had reported a suspect case to Biosecurity Queensland after attending a sick horse on the property.

"The vet attended the horse over several days last week and samples were taken and forwarded to Brisbane for testing. The horse was euthanised on Thursday," Dr Symons said.

"The sample results came back last night as positive and we immediately began implementing control procedures.

"There is one other horse on the property, which is healthy. A third horse on the same property died one month ago but we do not have any samples to test. The property is under quarantine.

"There is one resident at the property who has been informed of the test results.

"There are a number of horses on an adjoining property and Biosecurity Queensland officers are working with the owner to assess what, if any, exposure there has been to the most-recently deceased horse.

"Staff will also speak to a small number of residents in the immediate area today and provide the latest information about Hendra virus.

"This is the 13th known incident of Hendra virus infection since 1994."

Dr Symons said it was understood that the veterinarians who attended the horse had been wearing appropriate protective clothing.

"Following the recent tragic events surrounding the Hendra outbreak at Cawarral near Rockhampton, there is a greater awareness amongst vets and horse owners of the risks associated with Hendra virus.

"We encourage vets, horse owners and the community to be vigilant and report any suspected cases of Hendra virus to Biosecurity Queensland and most importantly, to take appropriate precautions when handling any sick horse.

"In a typical week we are testing as many as four samples for routine exclusion. In 2008 we tested more than 200 samples and so far this year we have tested more than 100."

For the latest information about Hendra virus, visit www.dpi.gld.gov.au

Queensland Government
Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries.

AHIC message to Industry - Hendra virus claims another veterinarian

It is with deep regret that we hear of the death of Rockhampton veterinarian Dr. Alister Rodgers after contracting Hendra virus (HeV) from a horse. The AHIC Board extends our deepest sympathies to Alister’s wife and family upon his untimely death.

Since HeV was first detected in 1994, there have been seven human infections. Four of these people have died – horse trainer Vic Rail, cane farmer Mark Preston (who became infected when assisting his veterinarian wife to do a post mortem on a horse), and veterinarians Ben Cuneen and Alister Rodgers who both became infected when treating horses before they realised the horses might have HeV infection. The death rate from HeV infections in humans is now 57%.

The three people who have become infected with HeV and have survived include a stable hand from the original outbreak in Hendra in 1994, a Cairns veterinarian, and a veterinary technician from the Redlands outbreak of HeV in 2008.

It is no surprise then that the Australian Veterinary Association has been very concerned about the lack of research into HeV for quite some time.

In recent years most HeV research has been funded through the Australian Biosecurity Co-operative Research Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (AB – CRC). AB – CRC has not been funded beyond the middle of 2010, and so any research funds they have will rapidly disappear. This means that unless a source of funding is soon found, any future research into HeV is problematic and in jeopardy.

The possibility that future research about HeV might be significantly curtailed must be of very serious concern to all horse owners in Australia. There are still considerable gaps in knowledge about HeV and how it circulates in flying foxes, how they cope with the infection, how HeV passes from flying foxes to horses, and how HeV then passes to humans.

There is no rapid diagnostic test for HeV, there remains a considerable lack of understanding of how to recognise a horse affected by HeV in the initial stages of infection, the proper biosecurity precautions to take early to prevent infection remain ill defined, there is no specific treatment for people who become infected with HeV, there is no vaccine for people or horses, and there remains considerable lack of knowledge and apathy among horse owners about basic biosecurity practices for their horses and properties (despite the lessons that should have been learned from the equine influenza outbreak and increasing frequency of the potentially deadly HeV infection).

Matters surrounding HeV alone provide considerable weight to the need for horse owners to be making ongoing contributions to horse research in Australia. HeV infections, though rare, have devastating effects on people who do contract the infection and those around them – family, friends and work colleagues.

The lives and health of people who work with horses might depend on gaining as much information about HeV as possible, in as short a time as possible.

AHIC message to Industry - Hendra virus in QLD

We have been advised that one of the veterinarians that was exposed to a HeV positive horse has now been diagnosed as positive to HeV, and has been transported to Brisbane and in an induced coma this afternoon.

This emphasises again just how dangerous HeV is and that everybody who has horses that might come into contact with areas frequented by flying foxes all over Australia needs to take appropriate precautions to prevent infection of humans and other horses.

All flying fox populations are potentially infected with HeV, horses are an amplifying host, 70 - 80% of horses that become infected will die and the remainder are destroyed to prevent OH&S issues in people, 50% of people who become infected with HeV are at a grave risk of dying from the infection. Though HeV infection outside flying foxes is unusual, it appears to be becoming more frequent in recent years. No matter where you are in Australia it is imperative that you keep your horses away from fruit eating bats.

Cawarra - Updated

Hendra Virus Cawarra Update
One property released from restrictions
At the weekend, movement restrictions were lifted for horses on one of the Direct Contact Properties (DCPs) after final negative VNT test results had been received. A timetable has been developed for the testing of horses on all DCPs to allow lifting of movement restrictions.

The horses on the infected property continue to be health checked on a regular basis. One horse on the infected property that had a slightly raised temperature on 25 August 2009 was sampled for testing for Hendra virus. A negative PCR result was returned on the sample. Previous PCR and indirect ELISA tests for this particular horse have been negative. A VNT result is awaited.

Ongoing investigations and information gathered during community engagement activities have determined further horse movements associated with the infected property. These are considered low risk but nevertheless are all being followed up. Movement restrictions are placed on all these contact horses. There are currently 15 Direct Contact Properties (DCPs) associated with the incident.

Community engagement
The Hendra virus site on the Queensland Primary Industries & Fisheries website now has more information and fact sheets. The Hendra virus fact sheet for the community has been updated with advice on the lifting of movement restrictions and what this means. In collaboration with the Department of Environment and Resource Management, a fact sheet has been developed on flying foxes and the risks of Hendra virus.

A full package of information is being prepared for sending to all registered veterinarians in, Queensland providing advice and support, including human health advice.

Hendra Virus – Cawarral - Prior Wednesday 20th August 2009
Cawarral horse returns positive test
Test samples taken from a horse at the Cawarral horse nursery property have returned positive to the Hendra virus serum neutralisation test (referred to as SNT or VNT). The SNT/VNT is considered the definitive test for antibodies to Hendra virus, indicating previous exposure to the virus.

Australia’s policy is to eradicate Hendra virus infection using destruction and disposal of all horses shown through demonstration of antibodies to be infected. The policy is available at the Animal Health Australia site - Please Click Here

The timing of the euthanasia is yet to be confirmed. The owner has granted permission for the Australian Animal Health Laboratory to conduct a post mortem on the horse for research purposes. The procedure will be carried out on the property under strict biosecurity physical containment standards. The horse will be disposed of on the property in line with current protocols.

The horse remains in isolation on the quarantined property. The result does not present any new risk to human or horse health during the current Hendra response.

The results from the horse traced to New South Wales have been received. The horse is negative to Hendra virus on both PCR and ELISA.

Further testing on all horses will be required before any movement restrictions are lifted. All horses (except the seropositive horse) were resampled on the quarantined property today. A sampling plan has been developed for the horses on the trace properties to be completed over the coming weeks.

Community engagement
The Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries’ mobile office will attend several horse and livestock events in the next few days. Experienced Biosecurity officers will be on hand to present Hendra virus information to horse owners and other members of the community.

The mobile office will be at the following locations:

Saturday 22 Aug, Yeppoon Dressage Meet, 11am – 2pm, Milroy Drive, Yeppoon
Sunday 23 Aug, Paradise Lagoon Pony Club Campdraft, 9.30am – 12.30pm, 9 Mile Rd, Gracemere
Monday 24 Aug, Clarke Creek Campdraft, 8am – 4pm, Old Pacific Highway, Marlborough.

Hendra Virus Notices Prior Wednesday 20th August 2009

Update on Hendra Tests
Results from the first round of samples taken from 25 horses at a Cawarral property outside Rockhampton and nine horses that have recently moved off the property are negative for Hendra virus infection at this point.  Additional testing from this first round of samples is still taking place.

However, it is necessary to wait for the results from the next round of testing before a complete assessment of the status of all the horses can be made.

Biosecurity Queensland will conduct further testing in the coming weeks which will eliminate the possibility of further Hendra infections.

Results for another two horses that left the affected property before the quarantine are still ongoing.

One horse is undergoing further testing and advice on results from the final horse that was traced to New South Wales is yet to be received.

The Cawarral property and a neighbouring property will remain under quarantine until such time as Biosecurity Queensland is completely confident there is no chance of any further infection. It is expected this will be in another three weeks at least.

Biosecurity Queensland has engaged independent reviewer Dr Nigel Perkins to audit procedures being used as part of our ongoing response.

This follows one of the recommendations from the Perkins Review of last year Hendra incidents and is a proactive way of ensuring there is continuous improvement on Hendra responses.

Hendra Virus
Research at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory after the Redlands 2008 outbreak of HeV has provided new information that must be taken into account in areas where flying foxes congregate.

All flying fox populations in Australia have the potential to carry and excrete HeV.

The new information is that horses can be infected with HeV for a couple of days before showing any clinical signs of being ill. During that time they can be excreting HeV which potentially can infect anybody who comes into contact with the infected horse. The research showed that infected horses appear normal, but have increased heart rates and body temperatures before they become ill. Thus, it is essential that horse owners take appropriate steps to prevent access by horses to all areas where flying foxes congregate.

The research has implications for horse owners or managers in other areas of Australia. Horses travel regularly from QLD and northern NSW (where HeV infections have been detected) to all parts of Australia. This means that horses from these areas must be isolated, observed and monitored closely for the first few days after arrival to ensure they remain healthy. If they are ill, then a veterinarian should be called and advised that the horse has recently arrived from an area where it is possible to have come into contact with flying foxes and HeV. This enables the veterinarian and those in contact with the horse to take appropriate precautions to prevent them becoming exposed to HeV when examining the horse and taking samples for laboratory analysis.