12 Australian Horses Dead of Unknown Cause

Twelve horses residing in a pasture in the Kooralbyn area of Queensland, Australia, are dead, but the cause of death remains unknown, according to an Oct. 7 press release from Biosecurity Queensland. Of the 12, seven horses died and five were euthanized.

The press release indicated that although authorities initially suspected hendra virus as the cause of death when investigating the scene yesterday (Oct. 6), tests have confirmed that none of the deceased horses were infected by the virus.

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Rick Symons, BVSc, MBA, PhD, said Biosecurity Queensland would perform postmortems on the horses to try and determine what made them fatally sick so rapidly.

"We don't expect to have the complete postmortem results until next week," he said. "There were a total of 25 horses on the property. Three of the surviving horses are showing signs of the illness and are being monitored."

The clinical signs the surviving horses exhibited were not reported.

A report from the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) indicated the seven dead horses and other sick horses (one witness said a horse was shaking and struggling to rise to his feet) were first noticed by area residents, who notified the local Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

One eyewitness quoted in the SMH report noted that the horses were placed in the pasture about two weeks and no people had been seen at the pasture since. It remains unclear who owns the horses.

TheHorse.com will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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