New Hendra Case Identified in Rockhampton, Qld.

Biosecurity Queensland is managing a new case of hendra virus identified near Rockhampton, Queensland, Australia, after a positive test result was received last night (July 18).

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Rick Symons, BVSc, MBA, PhD, said a foal died from the virus while two other horses and two dogs remain on the property.

"Biosecurity Queensland has quarantined the property and will assess what contact the other horses and dogs had with the infected animal," Symons said. "The property will be quarantined for the next month. Movement restrictions will apply to moving horses and horse materials on and off the infected property.

"Tracing will be a priority to determine what contact the deceased horse had with other animals on the property," he added.

Hendra virus has been known to yield numerous clinical signs in horses including respiratory distress, frothy nasal discharge, elevated body temperature (above 40°C, or 104°F), and elevated heart rate; however, authorities caution that hendra infection does not have specific signs.

The Australian Veterinary Association suggested that horse owners can reduce the risks of hendra virus in their horses by fencing off trees attractive to flying foxes (a type of fruit bat thought to spread hendra to horses), covering horse feed and water containers, and not feeding horses food that could appeal to flying foxes, such as fruit and vegetables.

Queensland Health staff will undertake contact tracing work to ensure all people potentially exposed to the bodily fluids of the dead horse have been identified. Queensland's Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young, MB, BS, FRACMA, FFPH, 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, counseling, information, testing or treatment that may be required," she said

This is the fifth hendra virus incident in Queensland this year. Three properties near Mackay remain under quarantine after a confirmed case of hendra virus last month.

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