Positive Hendra virus case confirmed near Tweed Heads

13 Sep 2018

New South Wales Department of Primary Industry has advised a positive Hendra virus case was diagnosed on a 4-year-old Arab cross located near Tweed Heads.

The case was diagnosed by a private veterinarian who is confirmed to have been wearing Personal Protective Equipment at the time. The infected Arab cross, which was not vaccinated against Hendra virus, has been euthanased.

Spokesperson for the Australian Veterinary Association, Dr Ben Poole, said it’s critical that horses located in high risk Hendra areas are vaccinated against Hendra virus. It provides a horse health and welfare benefit, and a public health benefit,” he said.

“This latest death is an unfortunate reminder of an unnecessary death of another horse, highlighting that the Hendra virus can occur at any time of the year and is not predictable.” Dr Poole said testing for the disease takes time and delays possible life-saving therapies. “That is why vaccination is so important, because a vaccinated horse has an extremely low risk of having Hendra virus infection.

“Sadly, another horse has died from this disease despite there being a fully registered vaccine available. When horses are infected with Hendra virus, people are potentially and unnecessarily exposed to the virus. Vaccination is the only way to ensure high standards of horse health and welfare whilst also reducing the risk to veterinarians, horse handlers and owners.” Dr Poole said.

Dr Poole said that the vaccine, introduced in 2012, remains the most effective way to manage the Hendra virus and is fully registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

“Vaccination of horses provides a public health and workplace health and safety benefit by reducing the risk of Hendra virus transmission to humans and other susceptible animals and helps to ensure high standards of animal health and welfare.”

Horse owners should contact their local veterinarian for more information about Hendra virus vaccination which is a very important part of their horse health and welfare strategy.

For further information and requests for interviews contact the AVA media office on 0439 628 898 or media@ava.com.au.

The Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is the only national association representing veterinarians in Australia. Founded in 1921, the AVA today represents 9000 members working in all areas of animal science, health, and welfare.

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