Horse tests positive for Hendra virus in Northern NSW

CSIRO Science Image of the Hendra virus

HORSE OWNERS across the Tweed Shire are being urged to vaccinate their animals after the NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) confirmed a Hendra virus infection in an unvaccinated horse near Lismore this week.

The 11-year-old gelding was the first case of Hendra virus for NSW this year and has prompted strong messages for owners to remain vigilant with vaccines.

NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Christine Middlemiss, said the Northern NSW property was placed under movement restrictions by Local Land Services.

“Samples from the horse were sent by a private veterinarian for laboratory analysis at DPI’s Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute (EMAI) and results from testing at EMAI confirmed the Hendra virus last night,” Dr Middlemiss said.

“The 11-year-old gelding was euthanased near Lismore last night by the Local Land Services district veterinarian.”

Dr Middlemiss said the horse was noticeably lethargic on Thursday, July 6, and by Friday, July 7, the horse was not eating and was wobbly on its feet.

“There has been a case of Hendra virus in the area before,” Dr Middlemiss said.

“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.”

The DPI media release said all horse owners should 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 in conjunction with it,” Dr Middlemiss said.

“Horses should also be kept away from flowering and fruiting trees that are attractive to flying foxes.

“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.