QLD Floods Could Have Sparked Hendra Outbreak

By: Ryan Clark
July 5th, 2011

While the floods in Queensland are long gone and the weather has returned to its beautiful best the lingering side effects continue to cause problems.

Horse racing is far from immune to this and the recent outbreak of the hendra virus could be a result of  the summer downpours which swept across Queensland and Northern NSW.

Yesterday in Boonah south-west of Brisbane the fourth casualty succumbed to the disease in Queensland and the third horse on the same property.

In Wollongbar near Lismore in northern NSW last week there another horse also had to be put down after Hendra was discovered.

Currently there are four farms under quarantine control in the southern corner of Queensland.

Flooding has been proposed as a possible influencing factor because of its effect on flying foxes, the carriers of the disease.

Queensland chief vet Dr Rick Symons said he was in talks with bat researchers about whether the bats may have migrated to new areas with their traditional feeding grounds potentially being washed away.
“We know that environmental factors could have an impact because they’re looking for new feed sources,” he said.

“Increased stress, that sort of thing could have an impact on the amount of hendra virus excreted.”

All four properties under quarantine reside next to an area with a bat colony estimated to number in the millions.

There are currently 14 people under observation who have come into contact with the affected horses however they’ve all been given only a low chance of falling ill.

Chief health officer in Queensland Jeanette Young says exposure levels have been only minimal.
“Their initial baseline testing has all been negative,” she said.

“They will have further testing in three weeks and at six weeks but again we don’t expect any of them to become unwell.”

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