Hendra Virus: Additional Horses Test Positive

Biosecurity Queensland has received initial test results on samples taken from 25 horses at the Cawarral horse nursery. All of the results were clear except for one horse, which showed a positive result for Hendra virus infection from the blood sample test.

The results are from one of the four horses that were tested yesterday when they were showing slightly elevated temperatures--at which time their nasal swab mucus samples were clear.

Today's positive result from the blood sample test was a surprise, as the initial results were negative.

The horse with the positive result will be re-tested to confirm the presence of the virus, with those results expected early next week. In the meantime the horse and any in-contact horses will remain isolated on the quarantined property at Cawarral.

Results from the 10 horses that moved off the Cawarral property in recent weeks are expected soon.

The virus has only been reported in Australia. Fruit bats (known as flying foxes in Australia) indigenous to the continent appear to be its natural host. Typical equine clinical signs of Hendra include respiratory distress, frothy nasal discharge, elevated heart rate, and increased body temperature. Some horses display neurologic signs, such as head-pressing or twitching, while others might appear to be colicky.

Tests on the horse that died at Cawarral on Aug. 7, the day before the known Hendra horse died, have confirmed it had also been infected with Hendra virus. Biosecurity Queensland has always treated this horse as a suspect case and this does not affect the response efforts.

The Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries mobile office arrived in Rockhampton today and has the latest information and advice on Hendra virus available. Visitors will also be able to update their horse property registrations and get more advice on good on-farm biosecurity practices.

A Biosecurity Queensland community information point has also been established at the Cawarral Community Hall today where vets, horse owners, and other members of the community can get information from experienced veterinarians and Biosecurity Officers.

Biosecurity Queensland is working closely with the owners of the property and local vets to offer advice and support where needed.

Horse events are not affected by the current Hendra virus incident and can continue without restrictions.

In past cases, human infections have occurred from handling infected horses (ill horses and during autopsies), so great care should be taken in regard to personal protective measures. There is no evidence of human-to-human spread or human-to-horse spread of Hendra virus.

People visiting properties where horses reside should discuss appropriate biosecurity practices with the owner before entering the premises that hold horses.

Basic decontamination procedures should be taken before and after contact with a horse, such as washing all exposed skin with soap and water.

If anyone suspects a case of Hendra virus, please contact Biosecurity Queensland immediately at 13 25 23 or contact the Emergency Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.

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