You guys are awesome, thank you so much for looking after Taruni. - Sue from Greenbank
New! The Hendra Vaccine
Find out more here.
What is Hendra Virus?
The Hendra Virus (HeV) was first discovered in 1994 in the Brisbane district of Hendra. It is a lethal disease which can spread from animals to people. It is present in flying foxes, and can spread to horses (and has also spread to a dog from a horse, and cats under laboratory conditions). The virus has been transmitted from horses to humans. The virus can be transmitted from horse to horse, but has not been shown to spread from human to human at this stage. Infection appears to occur through contact with bodily fluids of an infected being.
Symptomsof possible Hendra contraction
(as stated by the DPI):
The following symptoms have all been associated with HeV cases, but not all of these symptoms will be found in any one infected horse:
- rapid onset of illness
- increased body temperature/fever
- increased heart rate
- discomfort/weight shifting between legs
- rapid deterioration.
Respiratory signs include:
- respiratory distress
- increased respiratory rates
- nasal discharge at death-can be initially clear progressing to stable white froth and/or stable blood-stained froth.
Neurological signs include:
- ‘wobbly gait,' progessing to ataxia (inability to coordinate voluntary muscle movements; unsteady movements and staggering gait)
- apparent loss of vision in one or both eyes
- aimless walking in a dazed state
- head tilting and circling
- muscle twitching
- urinary incontinence
- inability to rise.
A range of other observations have also been recorded in individual horses infected with HeV.
The following points, when combined with the above signs, could also support suspicion of HeV:
- Where there are multiple cases, a high rate of deaths occurs within 48 hours.
- Facial oedema (swelling due to fluid accumulation)
- Facial paralysis/lock-jaw
- Altered gait, high stepping
- Some cases have initially been reported as colic, as similar symptoms were present (quiet gut sounds, straining to pass manure)
- Hot hooves
- There are flying foxes in the area, although a lack of sightings does not exclude HeV.
How to act if you suspect Hendra:
- Immediately call your local vet (if it’s us, 0409 884 377), and act on their advice. They may advise you to phone the DPI and the QLD Primary Industries and Fisheries (QPIF) on 13 25 23 during business hours, or on 1800 675 888 after hours.
- Shower and change clothes if you or someone you have come into contact with has handled a sick horse.
- Stay away from the affected horse and all other horses. Do not move any horses! Ensure your dogs cannot come into contact with the horses. If you are concerned your dog has had access to an affected horse then limit your contact with your dog also.
Humans and horses alike have died from contracting this virus, therefore it is of the utmost importance that we handle any suspected case with extreme caution and care.
To do this, you should:
- Treat blood and other body fluids (especially lung and nasal discharges, saliva, and urine) and tissue as potentially infectious and take precautions to prevent any direct contact with, or splashback of, these body fluids.
- Protect all exposed skin, mucous membranes and eyes from direct contact and cover cuts and abrasions with a water-resistant dressing. Any cuts or abrasions that become exposed or contaminated should be cleansed thoroughly with soap and water. If available, an antiseptic with anti-virus action such as povidone-iodine, iodine tincture, aqueous iodine solution or alcohol (ethanol) should be applied after washing.
For more information, go to: http://www.dpi.qld.gov.au/4790_2900.htm
Sadly there is no foolproof way of preventing this virus, but there are a few things you can do to reduce your risk:
- Have all of your horses vaccinated with the Hendra Vaccine, available from your veterinarian from the 5th of November 2012
- Ideally feed and water bins should be under a shelter, if this is not possible then place them out in the open. NEVER place them under trees
- Do not plant trees attractive to bats near your paddocks, especially fruiting ones.
- Remove any horses from a paddock where bats roost
- Wash your hands thoroughly after you touch your horses, and avoid touching your face etc. A hand sanitiser sitting out in the paddock near the gate perhaps is a great idea. You could even have it in a plastic box with personal protective equipment also inside for emergencies)
- Keep horse gear and equipment clean and wash thoroughly if it comes into contact with bodily fluids