Hendra Quarantine Lifted at New South Wales Property

Hendra Quarantine Lifted at New South Wales Property

The hendra virus.

Photo: Courtesy CSIRO Livestock Industries' Australian Animal Health Laboratory

A Macksville, New South Wales (NSW), Australia, property has been released from a quarantine prompted by the detection of the hendra virus following extensive testing and decontamination measures. Officials announced the release Aug. 30.

“All animals on the property have now been cleared, with final testing completed for a cat and dog which had contact with the infected dog,” NSW Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Therese Wright said. “The property was first quarantined on July 6 when hendra was confirmed in a 6-year-old gelding. A dog on the property later contracted the hendra virus after close contact with the infected horse. The remaining animals on the property were tested three times before these quarantine measures were released.

“Since June this year, hendra has been confirmed in four horses and one dog on four separate properties on the NSW mid north Coast: two properties near Macksville and two properties near Kempsey," Wright continued. “There are now no NSW properties under quarantine for the hendra virus with all previously infected properties completing testing and decontamination requirements.”

Wright said that horse owners need to remain vigilant to minimize exposure of their horses.

“Horse owners are heeding the advice and some 28,000 horses in NSW have now been vaccinated against the virus,” Wright said. “Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of hendra virus infection in horses.

“With the arrival of spring, horse owners should also keep an eye on fruiting and blossoming trees and ensure horses are kept well away from areas where bats congregate,” she stressed.

The deadly 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 virus is transmitted to horses from the flying fox, a type of Australian fruit bat.

Hendra virus is a zoonotic disease, meaning it can be transmitted from horses to humans; several humans that contracted the virus from horses have died since hendra was discovered in 1994.

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