Fears Ease As Hendra Outbreak Contained

By: Ryan Clark
June 30th, 2011

Biosecuirty Queensland says that their swift response to a Hendra outbreak earlier this week has likely contained the disease and they’re confident there’s no immediate danger of it having spread.

The first warnings signs sprang up on Saturday when a horse became seriously ill in the region of Kerry.

Shortly after being sent back home to Biddaddaba the horse died of what at the time was an unknown illness.

Up to eight people were in direct contact with the horse at some stage as well as 30 horses spread across the two towns.

Both properties still remain under quarantine and horses will remain stationary, however people are under the same restrictions.

Blood samples have been taken of eight people as well as the five horses which were in the paddock with the infected horse, those results are still yet to be released.

The other 25 horses have had samples taken today with those results still up to a week away.

Biosecurity Queensland chief veterinary officer Rick Symons said levels of exposure were only considered to be in the low to moderate range of seriousness and that to date there are no signs of any problems.
“At the moment we are happy that we have contained the disease,” Dr Symons said.
“The horses in the area, the other properties, we are aware that this is a big horse area, can feel confident the disease is under control.”

There is an experimental treatment still being tested to be used as a vaccine for Hendra virus however it will not be used in this case because it’s highly unlikely any people have been affected.

Despite this they still won’t be fully cleared until after a second blood test in 21 days and one final check up in six weeks time.

While surrounding properties have been warned of the issue they’ve been told that they shouldn’t be too concerned about it spreading.
“It is not likely to spread from property to property without the movement of horses,” Mr Symons said.

The Hendra virus of course became a national headline just a few years ago when it crippled the racing industry and cancelled meetings right around the country.

It’s a disease transferred from bats to horses and horses to humans however the debate it still raging on whether it can be transferred directly from bats to humans.

Trainers and owners with properties plagued by bat colonies have fought to have the pests removed however they’ve met strong resistance from animal rights groups.

A colony of flying foxes has been found surrounding a fig tree at Kerry.

“That’s the possible cause of transmission,” Mr Symons said.

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