Australian Hendra Quarantines Being Lifted

Australian Hendra Quarantines Being Lifted

Researchers know the flying fox transmits the deadly hendra virus to horses, but the exact method of transmission remains unclear.

Photo: Justin Welbergen

The quarantines implemented in Queensland, Australia, facilities that housed horses testing positive for hendra virus are slowly being lifted, according to a report from the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) released August 6.

Eight facilities in Queensland were quarantined after 10 horses died or were euthanized prior to testing positive for the virus. The first facility was released from quarantine in mid-July, and two more were released from quarantine August 1, according to additional AVA reports.

Another facility was released Saturday after its current equine residents completed the mandatory three rounds of hendra testing and tested negative in all cases.

"Horses are being monitored daily on the remaining quarantined properties by Biosecurity Queensland staff in conjunction with the horse owners," the report noted. "All horses are reported as clinically normal."

Australia is in the midst of its most deadly hendra virus season on record, with a total of 15 horses dying as a result of the disease.

Hendra virus (which has killed at least 40 horses since its discovery) 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 zoonotic disease is transmissible to humans and has killed four people since it was first discovered in 1994, including an equine veterinarian who contracted the virus after treating an affected foal in 2009.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in three-day eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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