Hendra Virus: Neurologic Variant Confirmed, Clinic Staff Exposed

Three horses have tested positive for Hendra virus at Redlands Veterinary Clinic on the outskirts of the city of Brisbane in the Australian state of Queensland. Hendra virus is deadly and can affect both horses and humans.

According to David Lovell, BVSc, MACVSC, QDAH, GCM, principal and founding partner of the Redlands Veterinary Clinic, two of the horses died and one has recovered fully. Lovell said testing has confirmed the horses had a neurologic variant of Hendra virus.

There are 37 horses remaining at the clinic. No additional horses have shown clinical signs.

Biosecurity Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Ron Glanville, BSc, BVSc, MVS, said the property will remain quarantined for at least two weeks and disinfection procedures are underway. Investigators are also working to ascertain the source of the virus.

"We are still investigating the circumstances, but the horses are unrelated and did not have symptoms when they moved there," Glanville stated.

Hendra virus outbreaks are reportable disease events, as the virus is zoonotic (it can pass from horses to humans). An outbreak in 1994 killed 14 horses and trainer Vic Rail. The virus has only been reported in Australia. Fruit bats indigenous to the continent appear to be its natural host.

Lovell said there is great concern among the staff, as a number of clinic employees have been exposed.

"None are sick in any way and all have been blood tested; however, we are anxiously monitoring developments," Lovell said.

For more information see Hendra Testing Continues on Horses at Australian Vet Clinic.

About the Author

Erin Ryder

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

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