Hendra Quarantines Lifted in Ingham and Rockhampton, Qld.

Two Queensland, Australia, properties where there were confirmed cases of hendra virus in late May were released from quarantine on July 12.

The properties in Ingham and Rockhampton were quarantined last month after a horse died on each property after contracting the virus.

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Rick Symons, BVSc, MBA, PhD, said Biosecurity Queensland had completed comprehensive sampling and assessments on all animals on these properties: "The animals were assessed daily throughout the quarantine period and have shown no clinical signs of the virus."

Symons said two horses on the Rockhampton property and a dog on the Ingham property which initially tested positive to hendra virus genetic materials would also be released from quarantine after subsequent tests returned negative.

"All aspects of these cases were reviewed by an expert panel made up of an immunologist, senior veterinarians, and animal pathologists from across Australia," he said "The experts agreed that the animals were not infected and did not pose any risk."

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.

Symons encouraged horse owners to remain vigilant in taking precautions to protect their animals.

"While Hendra virus infections can happen at any time of the year, the majority of cases tend to occur in the July to September period," he relayed. "Horse owners should not be complacent and as much as possible keep horses away from areas where there is flying fox activity."

A property near Mackay infected with Hendra virus last month and two adjoining properties remain under quarantine while testing continues.

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