Hendra Virus has, this week, been reported on a property at West Wallsend in the Newcastle area in 7 year old unvaccinated clydesdale. It is particularly noteworthy as it represents the most southerly latitude that known Hendra Virus cases have been diagnosed.
Link to Chief Officer Bulletin - Variant Hendra virus detection in NSW horse
Hendra virus infection has the potential to affect both horses and humans. It has the potential to be life threatening. The natural hosts of Hendra virus are fruit bats (flying foxes), which have the potential to pass the infection to horses via their faeces and bodily fluids. Human infection can arise given exposure to the blood, bodily fluids and tissues of an infected horse. There is no evidence to date to support the spread of disease from human to human or bat to human. There is, however, evidence of spread from horse to horse, following the exposure to the secretions of an infected horse.
Signs of Hendra Virus infection in horses include:
The NSW Department of Primary Industries has provided the following advice for horse owners:
1. Horse owners are encouraged to vaccinate horses for Hendra Virus;
2. Horse paddocks containing fruiting or flowering trees (or other trees that attract bats) should be fenced off so horses do not camp under them;
3. Horse feed and water containers should be located under cover away from bat faecal and spat contamination;
4. Isolate sick horses from humans and other animals and wear personal protective equipment if required to handle a sick horse.
Owners of horses in at risk areas are strongly advised to contact their veterinarian as vaccination remains the single most effective method of preventing infection from this deadly disease.
Fact sheets on Hendra Virus are available online at:
To report any suspicion of Hendra virus infection, contact your veterinarian or ring the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.
Harness Racing NSW Stewards should also be contacted on 02 9722 6600