Hendra Exposed Given All Clear In QLD

By: Ryan Clark
August 15th, 2011
Breaking News

A further eight people have been given the all clear from the deadly Hendra virus after their final round of testing returned no indication of disease.

All of them had been exposed to an infected horse earlier this year with a pain staking wait to discover if they had picked up the virus themselves.

The testing process is drawn out over several weeks with three different samples needing to be taken to comprehensively rule it out.

Of the eight people Ewan Maskrey was the person of most concern, the Beaudesert based vet having spent the most amount of time in direct contact with a sick horse.

Six weeks ago he responded to a call out at Kerry where he took samples from a sick horse.

Shortly after the horse was moved to Biddaddaba horse stud and succumbed to the Hendra infection.

He says while he was wearing gloves he was not wearing a mask or any other protective clothing.

Naturally he and his family are greatly relieved to have been given the all clear after more than a month of anxious waiting.

“It really isn’t a nice thing when you think about what could have happened,” Dr Maskrey said.

“I was lucky I was wearing gloves because I actually started wearing gloves when my daughter was born because I was worried about bringing things home.

“It’s a big relief and I’m quite lucky, I suppose.”

While the latest round of tests have cleared eight, there are still another 56 people under observation after having come into contact with affected horses.

The cases spread across Queensland and into Northern New South Wales but the outbreak appears to have ceased with no new cases reported for a few weeks.

Dr Maskrey though says the cases were numerous enough to put a greater priority on finding a vaccine.

“I guess the thing now for us is wondering when we will see the next case,” he said.

“I was less on edge over the last couple of weeks about what happened in the past and more worried about what I would see tomorrow.

“With the funding that’s come from the Government, I think it would be nice if they had everything in place ready to go once the vaccine has arrived because I think that is the most positive step we can take to make sure everyone is safe.”

Mrs Maskrey says the ordeal has taken a toll on the entire family and she’s glad they can finally return to a sense of normality.

“I trusted Ewan’s judgment in that he was fairly confident he hadn’t had much exposure but you are always going to be worried,” she said.

“It’s a relief and hopefully this is the back of it.”

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