Hendra virus update

Friday 27 July - Seventeen horses on a property in Cairns have been quarantined after a horse died of the Hendra virus.

Quarantine restrictions have been lifted at a property in the Rockhampton area after the death of a foal from Hendra.  More info

An equine case of Hendra virus infection was confirmed near Mackay in Queensland on 28 June. Quarantine restrictions have since been lifted. 

In May, two new Hendra virus cases in horses in Queensland were reported - one near Rockhampton and another near Ingham. Two additional horses at the Rockhampton property tested positive on 5 June . A dog on the Ingham property returned a single weak positive result but has since been given the all clear.

Biosecurity Queensland alert for veterinarians - 5 June 2012

Information from Biosecurity Queensland - 30 May 2012

The first Hendra case in a horse in 2012 was confirmed by Biosecurity Queensland after samples collected on a property in the Townsville area on 4 January tested positive for the virus.

During 2011 there were 23 confirmed cases of Hendra virus infection in horses in Queensland (thirteen cases on ten properties) and New South Wales (ten cases on eight properties). One dog on one of the Queensland properties tested positive although it showed no signs of disease. Visit the Hendra virus page to find out more about Hendra and dogs. 

Each of the sixteen incidents in 2011 were attributed to different groups of flying foxes and the infections are not being spread from property to property.

For more information about Hendra virus and previous outbreaks visit the Hendra virus page.

Supporting vets

Equine Veterinarians Australia (EVA), a special interest group of the AVA, contacts veterinarians who are exposed to the Hendra virus to offer support. A resource sheet is now available that helps explain the support available to veterinarians exposed to Hendra virus, and provides advice on interacting with workplace health and safety authorities, clients and the media.

A poster on Hendra awareness for horse owners is also available for vets to download and display in their practice or hand out to clients. There's also a download describing Guidelines on fencing off trees to protect horses.

Other useful resources for vets:

Information for horse owners

There is plain English information for horse owners and members of the public about Hendra virus on the Biosecurity Queensland and NSW Primary Industries websites.

Horse owners may also be interested in the AVA's poster on Hendra awareness for horse owners and Guidelines on fencing off trees to protect horses.

Other

Personal protective equipment

There have been many questions regarding what level of personal protective equipment (PPE) is appropriate when Hendra exclusion testing is being performed. Queensland Workplace Health and Safety has stated because horses can shed the virus for up to two days prior to developing clinical signs, the best practice advice is to wear appropriate PPE while treating all horses. The AVA and EVA are having ongoing discussions with authorities regarding risk assessment of horses and the level of PPE required.

A high quality video on PPE, has been produced by AVA and EVA with the support of key sponsors, Provet, Guild Insurance and Pfizer Animal Health.  The purpose of the video is to show members how to correctly put on and take off PPE. The videos will help members meet their staff training obligations.

Watch the video online: Suit up! Personal protective equipment for veterinarians

We have also investigated the training provided to veterinary students in biosecurity and correct PPE use prior to clinical rotations to help ensure their safety in the field.

The most recent guidelines for veterinarians on handling suspected Hendra cases is available from Biosecurity Queensland.

Vaccination

One of the key areas of concern and action involves the upcoming vaccine for horses, anticipated for commercial release in 2013, with doses available on a research permit later in 2012.

A survey was circulated online to gather member feedback on the highly anticipated vaccine to help the AVA advise governments and industry on the rollout of the vaccine. 

Government funding

The AVA welcomed the LNP's announcement to invest one million dollars over four years to allow private vets in Queensland to claim $250 from Biosecurity Queensland for personal protective equipment for the vet, horse owner and anyone else assisting with the testing of a horse.

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