New advice has been issued to Australian horse owners over the recently released vaccine that provides protection against the deadly Hendra virus.
Biosecurity Queensland’s chief biosecurity officer, Dr Jim Thompson, said recent data evaluated by the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority showed that the vaccine offered protection to horses for up to six months.
“Research is continuing to determine if the vaccine will provide protection against Hendra virus for up to 12 months,” he said.
“Changes have also been made around the timing of the second dose,” he said.
“When the vaccine was first made available late last year there were strict requirements on the timing of the second vaccination. Further research means that the second dose can now be administered anytime between three to six weeks after the first dose.
“Vaccination is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses and Biosecurity Queensland encourages horse owners to have their horses vaccinated.
“However horse owners shouldn’t become complacent, even after vaccination. We still recommend the use of good personal hygiene and biosecurity measures when working with horses, regardless of their vaccination status.”
Hendra is a bat-borne virus which is able to infect horses, usually with deadly consequences. In seven known cases, the virus has been transferred from horses to humans closely involved in the care of the sick animals. Four of those human cases have proved fatal.