Third confirmed Hendra Virus incident on North Coast

A horse was euthanised and buried at a property near Lismore on Sunday after it was confirmed the animal had the deadly Hendra Virus.

New South Wales Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Christine Middlemiss, said samples from the horse were sent for laboratory analysis to DPI’s Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI) and testing confirmed the Hendra virus infection late yesterday.

Dr Middlemiss said the 12 year old Welsh Pony Mare was noticed to be unusually quiet and disorientated by its owners last Thursday. ‘A private veterinarian took samples from the horse on Friday where it was also found to be suffering fever, increased respiration, poor circulation and grinding its teeth,’ said Dr Middlemiss.

Another horse and two dogs in contact with the infected horse are also being monitored.’

Dr Middlemiss said the property is now under movement restrictions by north coast Local Land Services. ‘All known Hendra virus cases have occurred in Queensland or northern NSW, but cases could occur wherever there are flying foxes or in horses that had recent contact with flying foxes prior to movement.’

This is the third case of the deadly infection in unvaccinated horses in less than four weeks and the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) continues to remind horse owners to be vigilant.

As part of the new NSW Biosecurity Act all members of the community have a general biosecurity duty to consider how actions could have a negative impact on another person, business, animal or the environment. 

Dr Middlemiss says all horse owners should discuss a Hendra virus vaccination strategy with their veterinarian. ’Vaccination remains the most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in Horses,’ she says. ‘But good biosecurity and personal hygiene measures should always be practiced in conjunction with it.

‘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.’

The current advice is – if your horse is unwell, keep people and other animals away from the horse and call your private veterinarian immediately.

If your vet is unavailable you can call a District Veterinarian with the Local Land Services or the Animal Biosecurity Emergency Hotline on 1800 675 888.

For more information about Hendra, visit DPI’s website.


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