Tenth NSW Horse Tests Positive for Hendra

A tenth horse in New South Wales, Australia, has tested positive for hendra virus, according to a press release from the New South Wales (NSW) Department of Primary Industries (DPI). This most recent case brings the national total of confirmed cases since June to 21. Currently the only other affected state is Queensland, with 11 confirmed cases.

"The horse was noticeably ill on Saturday and was showing neurologic changes, including weakness and loss of balance," NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Ian Roth said in the press release. "The horse deteriorated rapidly during the day and was found dead on Sunday morning. A private veterinarian took blood and swabs from the sick horse and sent the sample to NSW DPI's Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute for laboratory analysis. Results confirmed the hendra virus last night (Aug. 29)."

The release indicates the property has been quarantined, although no other horses reside on the premises. A dog residing on the property, as well as the affected horse's caretakers, will undergo testing for the disease the release said.

Hendra 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, 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 eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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