Study finds hunger is hendra risk

HUNGRY horses could be more susceptible to contracting hendra virus, according to the findings of a preliminary study into the effect of pasture availability on infection rates.

The results from a joint study by the University of Queensland and Bahrinna Thoroughbred Services analysed pasture growth and quality against the timing and location of hendra virus outbreaks in New South Wales and south-east Queensland in 2011.

Professor of animal science at UQ's School of Agriculture and Food Sciences, Professor Wayne Bryden, presented the research at the Australasian Equine Science Symposium at the Gold Coast this week.

"Hendra virus infections in 2011 coincided with periods of poor pasture growth caused by extended periods of frost and rain, and so horses were likely to have been hungry at the time of infection," Prof Bryden told the symposium.

"A hungry horse is more likely to consume bat-related material found on pastures.

"And because a horse's nutrient intake is significantly reduced due to poor pasture quality and availability, its immune system is possibly also compromised, thereby setting the scene for an infection."



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