Queensland Public Invited to Take Flying Fox, Hendra Survey

Queenslanders are invited to share their thoughts and views on flying foxes--the type of Australian fruit bat that transmits the deadly hendra virus to horses--in a new survey.

Biosecurity Queensland researcher Hume Field, BVSc, MSc, PhD, MACVS, said the community survey on flying foxes was now available online or by mail upon request.

"We are particularly interested in people's attitudes to flying foxes and their understanding of the risk factors for hendra virus," Field said. "The survey also asks questions about attitudes to the dispersal of flying fox colonies in local communities.

"The survey takes less than 10 minutes to complete and all responses will be treated confidentially. I would strongly encourage people to take part, especially if they live in a community where flying foxes are regarded as problematic."

Field said responses would be used to identify knowledge gaps and inform the direction of future communication programs run by government agencies.

"Education is one of the most important tools in our arsenal against Hendra virus," he said. "While many people have taken an active role in educating themselves about the risks factors for hendra virus, there is still a lot of misinformation surrounding the issue."


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, covering horse feed and water containers, and not feeding horses food that could appeal to flying foxes, such as fruit and vegetables.

"This is the third and last in a series of surveys designed to collect and analyze stakeholder opinions and attitudes on hendra virus and flying foxes," he continued. "The first survey focused on horse owners while the second survey was designed to determine attitudes of vets."

The community survey on flying foxes is jointly conducted by the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Forestry, and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection.

This research is supported by the Queensland Government, the New South Wales Government and the Australian Government under the National Hendra Virus Research Program.

Take part in the online survey. The survey closes on Oct. 12, 2012.

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