The Hendra virus has reared its ugly head again, this time claiming the life of a horse at Beaudesert, in southern Queensland.
News of the outbreak has forced Queensland Health and Biosecurity to quarantine several farms in the area.
Acting Queensland Premier Paul Lucas said there was no cause for alarm just yet, because the only horse that was found to have the Hendra virus has since died.
“The first priority will be getting out there and talking to the people on the farm and surrounding neighbours,” Lucas said.
“The risk in the community from Hendra virus is very, very low but you know in the past those people who have contracted it, it becomes an extremely serious matter.”
Queensland Biosecurity’s chief veterinarian Rick Symons said that all properties would remain quarantined until such time as authorities were fully confident that the disease would not spread.
“We will be testing all the other horses on both of the properties and then going back through a series of tests to ensure there is no Hendra on the property,” said Symons.
“We’ll certainly be contacting nearby properties and talking to the people. Our understanding is that it is unlikely that the affected horse came into contact with any other nearby horses, but we will be going out there and if there is any suspicion of any contact between horses between the properties, then those properties will be quarantined as well.”
The Hendra virus first appeared in the Brisbane suburb of the same name 15 years ago. Not only has it claimed the lives of thirty horses, but there have also been four confirmed human deaths because of the virus, including Vic Rail, who trained the legendary Vo Rogue.
The virus is passed on from fruit bats to horses and potentially from horses to humans. There is no known cure for Hendra virus, however it is interesting to note that the virus has never been found outside the southeast corner of Queensland.
The 1996 outbreak of the virus almost put an end to that year’s spring carnival, however officials are confident that this is a localised outbreak.