Guidelines for Managing Hendra at Horse Events Released

The New South Wales, Australia, Department of Primary Industries has released "Guidelines for the Management of Suspect Hendra cases at Horse Events" in response to the nation's deadliest hendra virus season in history. A total of 21 horses in New South Wales and Queensland died or were euthanized as a result of contracting the disease.

Topics covered in the guidelines include:

  • Biosecurity plans for event organizers;
  • Identification of sick horses and suspect hendra cases at events;
  • The handling of suspected hendra-positive horses;
  • Managing horses potentially exposed to a hendra-positive horse; and
  • Advice for venue owners and managers.

The guidelines are accessible online.

Hendra virus (which has killed dozens of 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 Australian Veterinary Association suggested that horse owners can reduce the risks of hendra virus in their horses by fencing off trees attractive to flying foxes, covering horse feed and water containers, and not feeding horses food that could appeal to flying foxes, such as fruit and vegetables.

Earlier this year Australian researchers announced that a hendra virus vaccine is nearing completion, and it could be available to consumers within a few years if final testing is successful.

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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