NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) veterinarians have confirmed Hendra virus caused the death of a horse on a property west of Murwillumbah last week.
NSW deputy chief veterinary officer Therese Wright said the Local Land Services district veterinarian had placed the property in quarantine and the dead horse was being buried.
‘The 31-year-old stockhorse gelding died overnight on Thursday this week after being found in a dam earlier that day and receiving treatment from a private veterinarian for very low body temperature.’
Ms Wright said samples from the horse were sent for laboratory analysis and results last night confirmed the Hendra virus.
‘Three people who handled the horse plus the veterinarian and an assistant are being assessed and monitored by NSW Health,’ she said.
She added the people on the property were at high exposure as they had handled the horse closely over a long period.
‘The horse had been in a paddock on a rural acreage, in an area which has regular flying fox activity,’ Ms Wright said.
‘Samples have been taken from five remaining horses on the property and the horses are under surveillance.
‘Initial investigations indicate no horses have been moved off the property in recent weeks and there are no dogs or cats on the property.’
Ms Wright said this was the first Hendra case in NSW this year.
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,’ Ms Wright said.
‘Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses.’
Ms Wright said horses should also be kept away from flowering and fruiting trees that are attractive to bats.
‘Do not place feed and water under trees and cover feed and water containers with a shelter so they cannot be contaminated from above,’ Ms Wright said.
‘If a horse becomes sick, owners should contact their veterinarian immediately.
‘People in contact with horses need to practise good biosecurity and personal hygiene measures even if a horse is vaccinated against Hendra virus.
‘Horse owners and vets are encouraged to download the latest information on Hendra virus from the DPI website www.dpi.nsw.gov.au.’