Horse dies of Hendra Virus near Murwillumbah

CSIRO Science Image of the Hendra virus

THE NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has confirmed an 14-year-old gelding horse near Murwillumbah has died of the Hendra virus on Wednesday, August 2, which was the second case of the virus in an unvaccinated horse on the Northern Rivers this year.

A spokesperson for DPI told The Weekly that the horse was diagnosed with the virus last week and had succumbed to its symptoms of the virus and was not euthanized.

The DPI is urging horse owners to remain vigilant with vaccinations to prevent any further cases.

NSW Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Christine Middlemiss, said in a media statement that the property near Murwillumbah has been placed under movement restrictions by Local Land Services.

“This is the second confirmed case of Hendra in NSW this year, following a Hendra virus infection in an unvaccinated horse near Lismore last month,” Dr Middlemiss said.

“Samples from the horse were sent by a private veterinarian for laboratory analysis at DPI’s Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI) and initial test results detected the Hendra virus today.

“The 14-year-old gelding was initially noticed by the owner to be lethargic and not eating properly.

“The horse was sampled four days later when it deteriorated, becoming unsteady on its feet and unwilling to move. On examination the horse also had decreased gut sounds, a temperature and poor circulatory function.

“There has been a case of Hendra virus in the area before.

“All known Hendra virus cases have occurred in Queensland or northern NSW, but cases could occur wherever there are flying foxes or in horses that had recent contact with flying foxes prior to movement.”

Horse owners are encouraged to discuss a Hendra virus vaccination strategy with their veterinarian.

“Vaccination remains the most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in Horses, but good biosecurity and personal hygiene measures should always be practiced,” Dr Middlemiss said in a media statement.

“Horses should also be kept away from flowering and fruiting trees that are attractive to bats. Do not place feed and water under trees and cover feed and water containers with a shelter so they cannot be contaminated from above.”

If your horse is unwell, keep people and other animals away from the horse and call your private veterinarian immediately.

If your vet is unavailable you can call a District Veterinarian with the Local Land Services or the Animal Biosecurity Emergency Hotline on 1800 675 888.

For more information about Hendra, visit DPI’s website.