Hendra Virus Reported at Australian Equine Clinic

Three horses have tested positive for the deadly Hendra virus at a veterinary practice on the outskirts of the city of Brisbane in the Australian state of Queensland. This virus can affect both horses and humans.

"We are taking the situation seriously with biosecurity inspectors moving quickly to quarantine the practice and establish thorough disinfection procedures to ensure the area is fully contained," said Tim Mulherin, minister for Primary Industries and Fisheries, in an official statement July 8.

Mulherin noted that officials do not yet know how the virus came to be at the practice, but that epidemiologists are investigating. Officials are also working to contact local residents to ensure they're aware of the situation and quarantine.

According to the statement, one horse died, one was euthanized, and one is recovering. There are 37 other horses at the practice. Biosecurity Queensland will begin sampling them July 9, once containment and disinfection procedures are in place.

Biosecurity Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Ron Glanville, BSc, BVSc, MVS, said the horses did not display the typical clinical signs associated with Hendra virus. These clinical signs can include respiratory distress, frothy nasal discharge, elevated heart rate, and increased body temperature, and some horses display neurologic signs such as head-pressing or twitching, while others might appear to be colicky.

Hendra virus outbreaks are notable disease events, as the virus is zoonotic (it can pass from horses to humans). It has only been reported in Australia. Fruit bats indigenous to the continent appear to be its natural host.

An outbreak in 1994 killed 14 horses and trainer Vic Rail.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from TheHorse.com. Learn More

Free Newsletters

Sign up for the latest in:

From our partners