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Byron Shire
May 19, 2022

Hendra Virus confirmed at Murwillumbah

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The owner of a 17-year-old unvaccinated thoroughbred horse on a property south of Murwillumbah, noticed the animal was depressed and having difficulty breathing on Friday, May 29.

A private veterinarian took samples for Hendra virus exclusion, but the horse deteriorated and was euthanised over the weekend.

NSW Chief Veterinarian Officer, Dr Sarah Britton said Hendra virus was confirmed late Monday evening.

‘This is the first case of Hendra virus infection in NSW this year,’ said Dr Britton.

‘A District Veterinarian from the North Coast Local Land Services is undertaking risk assessments on the property in regards to other animals; at this stage no other animals are showing any signs of ill health and we will continue to monitor their health status.

Hendra virus infection is notifiable in NSW under the NSW Biosecurity Act and the movement of animals and people on and off the property will be restricted for at least 21 days.’

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has been working with Local Land Services to encourage private veterinarians and horse owners to be aware and undertake sound biosecurity.   

23 confirmed horse deaths from Hendra since 2006

In NSW, there have been 23 confirmed horse deaths as a result of Hendra virus since 2006, with most cases occurring on the north coast. 

DPI is urging horse owners to remain vigilant as the signs of Hendra virus infection are very non-specific early on.

‘The vaccination of horses is the most effective way to help manage Hendra virus disease,’ Dr Britton said.

‘Owners should also keep their horses 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.’

If your horse in unwell, keep people and 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 the DPI website.

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  1. This is a worry. The flowering gum trees on The Rabbit Sanctuary property can sometimes attract passing bats. The rescue horses may be at risk. Our only option is to vaccinate them. It is good to protect them. The rescue bunnies sadly have no vaccine available for two of the CSIRO released deadly rabbit viruses. We keep them indoors, free of mozzies and flies that carry these viruses.


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