New Hendra Case Confirmed in Queensland's Brisbane Valley

Officials are managing a new equine hendra virus case in the Brisbane Valley in Queensland, Australia, after a positive test result was received late on June 24.

Take Steps to Reduce Hendra Risk

  • Talk to your veterinarian about the option of vaccinating your horse against hendra virus.
  • Horse feed and water containers should be removed from under trees. If possible, place feed and water containers under a shelter.
  • Owners should inspect and identify flowering/fruiting trees on their property. Horses should be removed from paddocks where flowering/fruiting trees are attracting flying foxes. Horses should be returned only after the trees have stopped flowering/fruiting and the flying foxes have gone. If horses cannot be removed from the paddock, consider fencing (temporary or permanent) to restrict access to flowering/ fruiting trees. Clean up any fruit debris underneath the trees before returning horses.
  • If it is not possible to remove horses from paddocks, try to temporarily remove your horses during times of peak flying fox activity (usually at dusk and during the night).
  • Ensure that sick horses are isolated from other horses, people, and animals until a veterinarian's opinion is obtained.
  • If there is more than one horse on your property, handle healthy horses first, and then only handle sick horses after taking appropriate precautions.
  • Make sure gear exposed to any body fluids from horses—including halters, lead ropes, and twitches—is cleaned and disinfected before it is used on another horse. Talk to your veterinarian about which cleaning agents and disinfectants to use.
  • When cleaning contaminated equipment from a sick horse, wear gloves, cover any cuts or grazes, and wash your hands thoroughly afterwards.
  • It is essential that horse owners practice good biosecurity and not travel with, work on, or take sick horses to other properties or equestrian events.
  • Do not allow visiting horse professionals to work with or on sick horses.
  • Seek veterinary advice before bringing any sick horse onto your property.

Queensland Chief Biosecurity Officer Jim Thompson, BVSc, MACVSc, said one horse died on the property after becoming ill over the weekend.

"Biosecurity Queensland is in the process of quarantining the property," Thompson said in a June 25 statement. "There are other horses on the property and we will be working to determine what contact the infected horse may have had with these other animals.

"Testing and monitoring will then be undertaken over the next month," he continued. "While under quarantine, restrictions will apply to moving horses and horse materials on and off the infected property."

Staff from West Moreton Hospital and Health Service's Public Health Unit, located in Ipswich, Queensland, are assessing this situation to determine if any humans had contact with the infected horse. They are also conducting contact tracing work to ensure all people potentially exposed to the sick horse have been identified.

Acting West Moreton Hospital and Health Service Public Health physician Dr. Kari Jarvinen reassured the community that transmission of the virus required close contact with body fluids of the sick horse: "There is no evidence the virus can be passed directly from flying foxes to humans, from the environment to humans, or can be transmitted by airborne droplets."

Thompson said this was the third case of hendra virus in Queensland horses this year.

"Even though the majority of cases tend to occur in the cooler months between July and September, we have consistently said that hendra virus infection can occur throughout the year," he said. "It is therefore important for horse owners to take steps to protect themselves and their animals year round.

"Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of hendra virus infection in horses," he added. "It is recommended horse owners speak to their veterinarian about the option of vaccinating their horse against hendra virus."

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