HENDRA ALERT: A colony of flying foxes on the outskirts of Lowood.
HENDRA ALERT: A colony of flying foxes on the outskirts of Lowood. David Nielsen

Four tested after hendra horse death at Lowood

LATEST: A Lowood property has been placed in quarantine after a horse died from the hendra virus.

Biosecurity Queensland confirmed a horse had died on the Somerset region property after it fell sick at the weekend.

A vet on Monday night sent samples to the agency from the horse. The samples tested positive for the hendra virus.

It is the third case of the virus in Queensland this year.

Local health officials said four people had been identified as having had some contact with the sick horse.

But all were assessed as having an extremely low risk of infection.

Biosecurity officers on Monday investigated the property where 20 other horses were believed to be under quarantine.

Chief Biosecurity officer Dr Jim Thompson said his organisation was working with the owners to determine the risk to other horses on site.

Testing and monitoring would be undertaken during the next month and that the infected horse had been put down on Monday, he said.

"While under quarantine, restrictions will apply to moving horses and horse materials on and off the infected property," he said.

As news spread through Lowood, veterinary surgeons were swamped with calls from panicked horse owners wanting to have their animals vaccinated.

Dr Thompson confirmed that vaccination was the most effective way to reduce the risk of hendra virus, which is spread by bats, and urged owners to have their horses vaccinated.

Biosecurity officials will also investigate whether there were bats on the Lowood property.

Since 1994, four people have been died from the virus in Australia - all of them in Queensland.

Acting West Moreton Hospital and Health Service Public Health physician Dr Kari Jarvinen reassured the community that transmission of the virus required close contact with body fluids of the sick horse.

"There is no evidence the virus can be passed directly from flying foxes to humans, from the environment to humans, or can be transmitted by airborne droplets," Dr Jarvinen said.

Somerset Mayor Graeme Lehmann offered assistance to Biosecurity Queensland after learning of the confirmed case of hendra.

He encouraged residents concerned to get information on the virus through the Biosecurity Queensland website.

HENDRA FACTS

  • Scientists believe the hendra virus pre-dates human settlement of Australia.
  • Since the first outbreak in 1994, to July 2012, 77 horse fatalities have been attributed to hendra virus
  • Hendra virus is responsible for an average of about four horse fatalities per year since it was discovered
  • The probability of a person dying as a result of hendra virus is about 1 in 100 million.

 

3PM UPDATE: A horse has died from hendra virus in the Brisbane Valley, taking the total number of hendra virus cases this year to three.

Biosecurity Queensland confirmed one horse had died on a property at Lowood after getting sick over the weekend.

A vet sent samples from the horse to Biosecurity on Monday night and a positive hendra virus test was confirmed.

Biosecurity officers are currently at the property north-west of Ipswich, where 20 other horses are believed to be under quarantine.

Queensland chief biosecurity officer Dr Jim Thompson could not confirm whether any other animals had been in contact with the horse.

"Biosecurity Queensland is in the process of quarantining the property," he said.

"There are other horses on the property and we will be working to determine what contact the infected horse may have had with these other animals."

"Testing and monitoring will then be undertaken over the next month.

"While under quarantine, restrictions will apply to moving horses and horse materials on and off the infected property."

It takes the number of hendra virus this year in Queensland to three.

Dr Thompson said the hendra virus vaccination had not had the take up people hoped for.

"The vaccine is early and there have been a number of issues people have raised about it," he said.

Those issues included costs and side effects, he said.

Dr Thompson warned horse owners the vaccination was the best way to reduce the hendra virus risk.

Biosecurity officials will also investigate whether there were bats on the Lowood property.

While Dr Thomspon said it was certain there would be bats in the Brisbane Valley area, he had no information on whether there was on the specific property.

Acting West Moreton Hospital and Health Service Public Health physician Dr Kari Jarvinen reassured the community that transmission of the virus required close contact with body fluids of the sick horse.

"There is no evidence the virus can be passed directly from flying foxes to humans, from the environment to humans, or can be transmitted by airborne droplets," Dr Jarvinen said.

For more information on Hendra virus visit biosecurity.qld.gov.au.



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