Hendra Quarantine in North Queensland Released

A quarantine put in place when a horse residing on a property between Cairns and Port Douglas, Queensland, Australia, tested positive for hendra virus in early September has been lifted. There are currently no hendra quarantines in Australia.

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.

The most recent case, confirmed in early September, was the seventh incidence in Queensland this year, said Queensland Chief Biosecurity Officer Jim Thompson, BVSc, MACVSc, when the case was identified.

In a press release, Thompson said horse owners needed 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," he concluded.

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