Horse owners are racing to make most of hendra vaccine

A vet administers the hendra vaccine
A vet administers the hendra vaccine John Mccutcheon

HINTERLAND horse owners have jumped at the chance to have their beloved animals treated with the new hendra virus vaccine.

Palmwoods vet Brett Stone said he had so far administered the first of two required injections to around 25 local horses.

The HeV vaccine became available in Queensland on November 1. It requires two injections, 21 days apart.

"There was an initial excitement and there has been a steady uptake; and now more people are coming on board," Dr Stone said of the local interest in the vaccine.

The Hendra Virus was first discovered in Brisbane in 1994 and has been responsible in recent years for dozens of cases in Queensland and northern New South Wales.

Scores of horses have died from the disease, which manifests as severe flu symptoms.

The disease is transmittable to humans and has been responsible for a number of deaths.

Dr Stone said the new vaccine also now gave vets a safeguard when treating ill horses.

"If a horse has been treated with the vaccine, and then later falls sick, we can treat them with a little more confidence because it is unlikely to be Hendra."

A condition of treatment of the horses is the animal must be microchipped so their vaccination can be recorded on a special register.

Dr Stone noted the microchipping would also have spin-off benefits in terms of horse identification during ownership disputes and investigation of stock thefts.

Topics:  hendra horses vaccine virus

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