Hendra Virus infections increase

On June 29th this year the first case of the Hendra Virus for the year of 2011 was confirmed on a property at Kerry, near Beaudesert in Qld. Since that day a total of fifteen horses have died and around a dozen properties quarantined.

In New South Wales the Infections have been in Northern New South Wales, with the first case being confirmed just a day after the Beaudesert case in South Queensland. As the crow flies we are only talking a distance of a couple of hundred kilometres but the only common denominator is the fact that the virus was passed on by fruit bats. The infected Beaudesert horse died and Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rick Symons said a private vet had attended a sick horse on a property on Saturday, but it had died on the Sunday. The horse had been moved to a nearby second property, where it died. It was the 15th known incident of Hendra virus infection since 1994. It is believed that the vet who attended the sick horse is actively involved in the cutting horse industry. Subsequent tests in the days that followed confirmed that no humans were infected with the disease.

Since that first case some six weeks ago a total of fifteen horses have died, five in New South Walesand Ten in Queensland.

Four of the five horse’s infectedNew South Wales horses were located in the Northern Rivers area and the fifth in the North Coastal town ofMacksville nearCoffsHarbour. However the infections inQueensland were much more widespread. Seven of the infections occurred in the South East Queensland Towns of Beaudesert, Boonah, Logan and theBrisbane suburb of Boondall. These areas are no more than 150 kilometres apart. The other three cases were somewhat spread out with one death near Cairns in north Queensland, one in the coastal town of Hervey Bay and the final case in Chinchilla some 300 odd Kilometres north West of Brisbane.

As a result of the Chinchilla case Lynette Whyte (owner of the brilliant Dual Rey stud Dual Windstorm) was forced to scratch her Non Pro rides at the recent Burrandowan Cutting in unusual circumstances. They had a young colt with a serious eye problem that in normal circumstances would be treated by taking the horse to the local vet for treatment, however because of the Hendra Virus incident in Chinchilla he was unable to be taken because of Quarantine restrictions meaning the vet would have to go to their property. So instead of spending the week end cutting Lynette had to spend the week end waiting for the vet to come.

Quarantine restrictions have now been removed from the first two Beaudesert properties as the thirty day danger period of the virus spreading has passed. Dr Rick Symonds reminds everybody that although there is an increase in the instances of Hendra Virus this season the risk of infection is very low for both horses and humans he advises everyone “Owners can help protect their horses by taking measures to keep them away from trees where there are flying foxes, keeping water containers under cover and feeding horses under cover.”
Current situation inQueensland

  • Locations with confirmed cases – Beaudesert, Mt Alford, Park Ridge, Kuranda, Hervey Bay, Boondall, Logan, Chinchilla
  • Horse deaths – 10
  • Horses being monitored – 83 plus 4 horses at this stage at Chinchilla
  • People being tested – 57, not including Chinchilla cases yet to be confirmed.

Quarantine on two Beaudesert properties was lifted last week.


Current Situation in NSW

28 July 2011: Hendra virus has been confirmed as the cause of death of horses on theNSWNorthCoast:

  • June 30 – A horse on a property near Wollongbar
  • July 6 – A horse near Macksville
  • July 14 – A horse, on the same property at Wollongbar as the first horse, was euthanized.
  • July 14 – A horse on a property near Lismore
  • July 24 – A horse on a property near Mullumbimby