After Horse Death, Hendra Confirmed in NSW Dog

Hendra virus has been confirmed in a dog on an infected property near Macksville, New South Wales (NSW), Australia.

"This follows the death of a horse from the virus on the same property on July 4, 2013," NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth said. "Samples from the dog were sent to the Department of Primary Industries’ Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute for laboratory analysis and results (returned July 19) confirmed the hendra virus.

"It is most likely that the dog caught the virus from the infected horse following close contact," Roth continued. "The dog was sampled by a local private veterinarian and the Senior District Veterinarian from the local Livestock Health and Pest Authority as part of routine monitoring of the quarantined property."

Roth said the dog, along with two other remaining horses, and two other dogs, previously tested negative to the first round of testing on July 6. A cat was assessed as low risk and not sampled.

"All other remaining animals on the property remain healthy and have so far been cleared of the hendra virus," he said. "The cat and a dog who have had contact with the infected dog will be retested and monitored for a further 20 days before quarantine measures are released. The horses and the second dog which have not had contact with the infected dog will continue to be monitored until they complete the last round of clearance tests due in ten days.

"DPI recommends that people keep dogs and cats away from sick or dead horses and the body fluids from sick or dead horses to reduce the risk of such an infection happening," he cautioned.

In accordance with national biosecurity policy, the positive dog has been euthanized.

NSW Health has been notified and will follow up and assess the people who had contact with the infected dog. Roth said this is the second reported case of hendra virus in a dog outside of an experimental setting.

"In July 2011, a dog in Queensland tested positive for hendra virus on a property where hendra virus infection had been confirmed in a horse," he said. "There is no evidence to suggest that dogs can be infected with hendra virus directly from flying foxes. Research is continuing to increase our understanding of the transmission of hendra virus."

Roth said hendra virus has been confirmed in four horses and one dog on the NSW mid-north coast so far this year.

"The four separate properties are all located on the NSW mid north coast, in the Macksville and Kempsey areas," he said. "Following extensive testing and decontamination, quarantine measures have been lifted at the first infected property at Macksville. The remaining three properties remain in quarantine and movement restrictions remain in place for all horses and companion animals on these properties."

Hendra virus is a virus that infects large flying foxes (fruit bats) which can be passed on to horses and, rarely, from horses to people, and on two occasions from horses to a dog. Property assessments indicate it is likely that flying foxes in flowering or fruiting trees including white cedar trees were the source of infection in all infected properties.

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