Newly Confirmed Hendra Case Brings Australian Total to 20

Another Queensland, Australia, horse was confirmed positive for hendra virus today (Aug. 23), bringing the state total to 11 and the national total to 20. The most recent confirmed case is the first this year in the Gold Coast region.

"Samples were taken from a sick horse on the property yesterday with results confirming today that it was infected with hendra virus," Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Rick Symons, BVSc, MBA, PhD, said in a press release. The horse reportedly died shortly after the virus was confirmed.

"We understand there are a number of other horses on the property and full tracing is being undertaken to assess if these or any other horses have been in contact with the infected horse," Symons continued. "The property has been quarantined to restrict the movement of horses on and off. Remaining horses on the property will be monitored and sampled, undergoing three rounds of testing before they are cleared--this is typically 30 to 35 days."

Late last week, four horses were confirmed as hendra-positive in New South Wales (one on Aug. 16 and three on Aug. 17).

Prior to this year, a total of 14 hendra cases had been diagnosed since the disease's discovery in 1994. The virus 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.

Scientists believe the virus is transmitted to horses from flying foxes, a type of fruit bat that frequents Australia, but the exact method of transmission remains unclear.

The zoonotic disease is transmissible to humans and has killed four people since it was first discovered.

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 eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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