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What happens after Hendra virus has been confirmed?

This article has been taken from DAFF.

Following are the initial steps taken by Biosecurity Queensland at the start of a Hendra virus incident:

Quarantine

  • Once an animal has been confirmed to be infected with Hendra virus by laboratory testing, Biosecurity Queensland will quarantine the property involved.
  • A quarantine sign is fixed in a conspicuous place (usually on the front gate/fence) so that the property can be identified as being under quarantine.
  • The quarantine restricts the movement of certain animals and animal products (e.g. manure, contaminated equipment). People are able to move on and off a quarantined property.
  • A quarantine for Hendra virus is typically in place for 30 days, however this may change depending on a range of factors such as the need for additional testing.

Assessment of animals on the infected property

  • Hendra virus is not highly contagious and it requires close contact with infected animals (including their body fluids and tissues) for infection to be transmitted to other animals or humans.
  • Biosecurity Queensland will investigate the level of contact the infected animal may have had with other animals. Research has shown that horses, dogs, cats, guinea pigs and pigs, can be infected with Hendra virus.
  • Animals assessed as being at risk of exposure to Hendra virus will:
    • be segregated from other animals and humans
    • undergo laboratory testing for Hendra virus

Human health

  • Biosecurity Queensland will notify Queensland Health of confirmed cases of Hendra virus infection in animals.
  • Queensland Health will make an assessment of people who may have been exposed to Hendra virus and will determine if any people require monitoring and/or medical assistance.
  • Workplace Health and Safety Queensland may become involved in the investigation of work places involved in a Hendra virus incident.

Assessment of immediate neighbours and movements off property

  • The movements of the infected animal will be traced to identify any other animals that may have been exposed to Hendra virus.
  • Other properties may also be quarantined. This can occur if animals from the other properties came in close contact with the infected animal during the contagious period.
  • Biosecurity Queensland will identify "hot" and "cold" zones on quarantined properties.
    • Hot zones: areas that may be contaminated with Hendra virus or where at-risk animals are kept.
    • Cold zones: areas assessed to be safe or clear of Hendra virus contamination.
  • Any people entering "hot" zones or having contact with animals assessed to be at risk of exposure to Hendra virus must undertake infection control measures (including suitable personal protective equipment, hand hygiene and decontamination procedures).

Contact with neighbours

  • Biosecurity Queensland will contact people with properties adjoining a quarantined property to provide advice that an immediate neighbour's property has been quarantined due to Hendra virus. Owners of animals identified as being at risk of contact with the infected animal will also be contacted. This typically takes place in the first day or two of the response.
  • As Hendra virus is not highly contagious, Biosecurity Queensland does not directly contact other people in the general area about a Hendra virus incident.
  • The few cases of Hendra virus infection in humans have occurred following direct exposure to respiratory secretions (e.g. mucus) and/or blood and other body fluids from an infected horse.
  • If you are an immediate neighbour of a quarantined property and have concerns about a Hendra virus incident, or if you feel you have information that can assist in the management of a Hendra virus incident, please contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23.

Public notifications

  • The Queensland Government does not provide personal details such as names or addresses of people involved in a Hendra virus incident.
  • A media release and social media posts will be disseminated early in a Hendra virus response to advise the general community of the situation. Targeted communications are released to key sectors (e.g. horse organisations, veterinarians).