A horse has died from the bat-borne Hendra virus in the Gladstone area of Queensland, about 550 kilometres north of Brisbane.
The affected property has been placed under quarantine by Queensland biosecurity officials. The lockdown will be in place for at least a month.
The state’s chief veterinary officer, Dr Allison Crook, said the horse had been unwell for several days and was found dead on Thursday.
“The positive test result was received last night,” Crook said.
She said tracing and exposure assessments were being undertaken on other horses that may have had contact with the infected horse to work out if further testing needed to be done.
Queensland Health is following up all human contacts, but at this stage it appears no-one is at serious risk.
Crook said it was the third case of Hendra virus in Queensland this year.
She said infection with the virus could occur throughout the year, so it was important that horse owners took steps to protect themselves and their animals at all times.
“The affected horse had not been vaccinated. Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses,” she said.
“If a horse becomes sick, owners should contact their veterinarian immediately.”
People in contact with horses needed to remember to continue to practice good biosecurity and personal hygiene measures even if a horse is vaccinated against Hendra virus, she said.
The Hendra virus is able to be transmitted from infected horses to humans. Of the seven known cases in humans, four proved fatal.