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Hendra Virus poses risk to local horses


ISSUE 17 | SEPTEMBER 2011 21 FLORIST


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to horses. WHAT IS THE HENDRA VIRUS? It is an extremely uncommon virus


I


that can cause fatal disease in horses and people. Te virus is carried by some flying foxes (fruit bats) but does not cause disease in these animals. Horses can become infected by some flying foxes when in close contact with an infected flying fox. Te virus multiplies rapidly in horses


resulting in large amounts of virus being excreted in nasal secretions, urine and faeces. All known human cases have resulted from very close contact between the person and an infected horse. Te Hendra virus has been detected on or east of the Great Dividing Range and from Northern Queensland to Northern New South Wales. While the exact route of infection is


not known, it is thought that horses may contract Hendra virus infection by eating food recently contaminated by flying fox urine, saliva or birth products. Tere is no evidence that the Hendra virus infection can be passed directly from flying foxes to humans, from the environment to humans or can float in the air. WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF HENDRA VIRUS IN A HORSE? Te clinical signs of Hendra virus


infection in a horse are – • Acute onset illness • Depression, not eating • Discomfort/weight shifting between legs


• •


Increased body temperature and heart rate Blindness


While neurological signs (including


abnormal muscle twitching, weakness and loss of balance) and respiratory signs (nasal discharge, coughing, breathing difficulty) are the most common signs they may not always been seen. Any sick horses should be examined by your private veterinarian who will arrange for exclusive testing for Hendra virus if considered necessary.


n Queensland and northern NSW Flying-foxes are known to carry Hendra virus which can pose a risk


TO REDUCE THE RISK OF THIS


VIRUS FOLLOW THESE SIMPLE STEPS. • Place feed and water containers under cover if possible


• Do not place feed and water containers under trees, particularly if flying foxes are attracted to the trees


• Do not use feed that might be attractive to flying foxes if they are known to be in the area, i.e. molasses





If possible, remove horses from paddocks where flowering trees have resulted in a temporary surge in flying fox numbers. For example native gum trees, fig trees





If removal from paddocks is not possible, try to temporarily remove your horses during surge in flying fox numbers, (at dusk and during the night)


• Wash your hands thoroughly after handling each horses


• Keep any sick horses isolated from all other horses, people and animals until checked by veterinarian


• Do not allow farriers, horse practitioners or trainers to work on sick horses.


• Make sure gear exposed to any body fluids from horses is cleaned and disinfected before it is used on other horses. Tis includes things like halters, lead ropes and twitchers. Talk to your vet about proper cleaning agents and disinfectants to use.


ALL SUSPECTED CASES MUST BE REPORTED All cases must be reported


immediately to the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline by calling 1800 675 888 (24 hour hotline).


Tis information is provided by Mary Carr, PIRSA Biosecurity, Animal Health.


Disclaimer - Use of this information in this editorial is at your own risk and is without prejudice.


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