Fresh Hendra Outbreak Sparks Fears In Townsville

By: Sarah Fortnum
January 6th, 2012

Another case of Hendra virus has been confirmed in Townsville, which is located on the North coast of Queensland.

The case is being overlooked by Queensland’s Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Rick Symons.

“The horse died on Tuesday and the positive result for the virus came back late last night,” Dr Symons said.

The doctor insists the veterinarian who first treated the deceased horse had taken the proper precautions associated with treating Hendra virus, including the use of personal protective equipment.

The property is now being quarantined to ensure the virus does not spread.

“Biosecurity Queensland is in the process of quarantining this property and will test and monitor the other five horses at this location over the next month,” Dr Symons said.

Dr Symons revealed that this was not the first Hendra case to arise in Townsville in the summertime, with the previous case being documented in December 2004.

While Hendra typically crops up during the colder months of July-September, it is not uncommon for outbreaks to occur in the summer.

Chief Health Officer for Queensland, Dr Jeanette Young, said her team was currently ensuring that no human has been affected by coming into contact with the virus while the affected horse was on the property.

It is believed that ten people are currently undergoing tests for the disease.

“Queensland Health staff will continue to undertake contact tracing work to ensure all people potentially exposed to the sick horse have been identified,” Dr Young said.

“Queensland Health stands ready to provide any assistance, counselling, information, testing or treatment that may be required.”

Hendra has been an issue in Australia since 1994 when it was discovered in the suburb of Hendra, just north of Brisbane.

This is the 69th horse to have died from the deadly disease.

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