Australian vets are urging horse owners to inoculate their animals against Hendra, warning that unvaccinated equines with a fever won’t be admitted to any equine hospital in Queensland without a negative test for the deadly virus.
The call from the Australian Veterinary Association follows the latest confirmed case of the virus in a horse, in the Gladstone area of Queensland.
“It’s not enough to cross your fingers when it comes to the Hendra Virus,” said Dr Nathan Anthony, who is president of Equine Veterinarians Australia.
“Hendra kills horses and it kills people. Every death from Hendra virus is now preventable.
“Hendra virus infection in horses can happen anywhere, at any time. If horse owners want guaranteed veterinary care when their horses get sick then they must get them vaccinated.
“This is particularly the case in Queensland and northern New South Wales where Hendra cases have been recorded.”
He said vets were constantly at risk when treating an unvaccinated sick horse.
“It’s got to the point where some vets won’t treat a sick unvaccinated horse.
“All equine hospitals in Queensland have a strict policy that unvaccinated sick horses with a fever cannot be admitted to hospital without Hendra virus exclusion testing.
“These results can take 24 to 48 hours, which is resulting in life threatening delays in treatment.
“Hendra virus has a high human death rate, no cure and no human vaccine. An outbreak of Hendra virus can also be financially, professionally, emotionally and psychologically damaging as well as potentially life-threatening for those in contact with the horse,” Anthony said.
Horse owners and those who worked in the horse industry should take immediate action to have horses vaccinated, he said.