Hendra Virus Won’t Affect Race Meetings

Racing Queensland has moved to assure the racing industry that no meetings will be lost in the state because of the Hendra virus.

Two fresh outbreaks of the disease were found over the weekend at Hervey Bay and the northern Brisbane suburb of Boondall.

Two properties in Boondall, which is located just 10km from Brisbane’s two premier race tracks, have now been quarantined. Since the start of the outbreak 11 horses have died or been put down in Queensland and northern New South Wales. 80 properties are also being monitored.

Racing Queensland’s Jamie Orchard said the entire industry was being given constant updates on the situation, and that he was confident no race meetings would be lost to the outbreak.

“We don’t see the need for it to affect any race meetings at this stage, people are getting on with it,” Orchard said.

“Certainly the trainers in the racing industry are very conscious of what steps they need to take to minimise the risk. They’re already taking the various precautions that we’re recommending so we’re fairly confident at this point that racing shouldn’t be affected.

“While we’re very conscious of every particular instance and the potential consequences of the outbreak, we think that the risks to the racing industry are well contained.”

However confident racing officials are there are, there are still new outbreaks of the deadly disease popping up along the eastern seaboard. When the disease was first detected it was localised to the south east corner of Queensland. Horses from Hervey Bay to Lismore have now been infected with the virus.

A fourth horse died of Hendra yesterday in the northern New South Wales town of Lismore. The property is the third to be quarantined in New South Wales after the virus was also found at Macksville and Wollongbar.

However NSW Department of Industry spokesmen Ian Roth said it was unlikely that the latest case of the virus was passed on to other horses or humans.

“There is one other horse on the quarantined property which is currently showing no signs of illness. The infected horse had been in a paddock with a fig tree, so it is likely that flying foxes were the source of the infection,” Roth said.

Authorities in both Queensland and New South Wales are urging horse trainers to cover their feed supplies and keep their horses off grass so that they cannot digest potentially lethal urine, faeces or birthing fluid from bats.

“If you suspect that your horse has Hendra virus, keep away from the horse and call your private veterinarian immediately.” Roth said.