Hendra virus confirmed on NSW north coast
24 Jun 2015
NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has confirmed Hendra virus as the cause of death of a horse near Murwillumbah on the NSW north coast.
DPI Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth said the dead horse has been buried and the property will be placed in quarantine today.
"The 19-year-old gelding died on Saturday afternoon after showing typical Hendra symptoms, including lethargy, for two to three days prior," Mr Roth said.
"Samples from the horse were sent for laboratory analysis and results confirmed the Hendra virus.
"An additional Murwillumbah property that received a gelding which had been in contact with the sick horse will also be quarantined."
Tracing is underway to confirm movements on or off the property, while two other horses and two dogs on the infected property are being closely monitored for any warning signs of the virus.
Staff from Local Land Services are working closely with the property owners and have identified a fruiting rainforest tree known as a toambark as the likely tree that attracted fruit bats on to the property to feed.
NSW Health have been informed and assessed a number of people who had contact with the dead horse.
This is the first Hendra case in NSW this year and DPI confirmed the horse had not been vaccinated for Hendra virus.
NSW DPI has been encouraging horse owners to see their veterinarians and work out their vaccination strategy against Hendra virus.
"Winter is the season when horses have been infected with Hendra in NSW in the past – so now is the time to get a vaccine booster for your horse," Mr Roth said
"Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses."
Mr Roth said people in contact with horses need to practice good biosecurity and personal hygiene measures even if a horse is vaccinated against Hendra virus.
"Horses should be kept away from flowering and fruiting trees that are attractive to bats," Mr Roth said.
"Do not place feed and water under trees and cover feed and water containers with a shelter so they cannot be contaminated from above.
"People should avoid touching sick horses but if they need to come into direct contact ensure they are wearing gloves and a protective mask and avoid any contact with secretions from the animal."
Horse owners and vets are encouraged to download the latest information on Hendra virus from the DPI website and if a horse becomes sick, owners should contact their vet immediately.
This latest Hendra outbreak will cause concern for many horse owners, but a good preventative care program will help protect your horse from potentially deadly infections like Hendra virus.
Regular vet check-ups, keeping your horse’s environment as hygienic as possible and, of course, vaccinating your horse against Hendra virus, will all ensure your horse remains healthy throughout this worrying time.