Record-Breaking Hendra Season Continues in Australia

Another Queensland, Australia, horse has been euthanized after testing positive for hendra virus late last night (Oct. 10), according to a press release from Biosecurity Queensland. The horse, which was residing on a property in Caboolture, reportedly became sick over the weekend and was treated by a private veterinarian, the release said.

"Another horse was euthanized at this property over a week ago," said Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Rick Symons, BVSc, MBA, PhD. "Biosecurity Queensland is seeking samples from that horse as well to test for hendra virus. There are two remaining horses on the property, and Biosecurity Queensland is in the process of quarantining the property and will assess and monitor the other horses at this location over the next month."

Australia has now seen 22 confirmed cases of hendra virus since June of this year; twelve cases have been confirmed in Queensland and 10 in New South Wales.

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.

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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