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Confirmed case of deadly Hendra virus in Hunter Valley

The NSW Department of Primary Industries has informed veterinarians around the state of a confirmed case of the deadly Hendra virus in an unvaccinated 25-year-old mare near Australia’s horse capital of Scone.

The bat-borne disease, which is deadly to humans and horses, has never been found as far south as the Hunter Valley, with a case in Kempsey in 2016 the most southerly previously recorded.

The disease was first observed in 1994 when it caused the death of Queensland trainer Vic Rail, who famously prepared champion galloper Vo Rogue, and 13 of his horses in the Brisbane suburb of Hendra.

The Scone horse developed neurological signs last Friday and was euthanased. Its owners contacted the animal disease hotline.

It is understood a district vet from the Hunter Local Lands Services took samples from the property and horse on Sunday. The Hendra virus infection was confirmed by NSW DPI on Wednesday.

NSW Heath has been called in to manage and monitor people and other horses exposed to affected animal.

The DPI will trace the movement of horses and a biosecurity direction is in place on the property where the affected horse was located. It will control movement of people and horses on and off the property.

Scone is home to some of the biggest thoroughbred studs in Australia. The major concern is that Scone and the surrounding areas are a naive population to the deadly virus and, even though there has been a vaccination protocol in place this decade, many horses have not been vaccinated.

The Hendra virus is a notifiable disease under the NSW Biosecurity Act and there has been 22 horse deaths in NSW since the state's first case in 2006.

The incubation period for Hendra disease is between five and 16 days, and more than 70 per cent of horses infected with the disease have died.

It is also a communicable disease to humans. To date there have been no human deaths in NSW. In all confirmed human cases there has been high levels of exposure to the bodily fluids of the infected horse.

Article courtesy of Nine and The Sydney Morning Herald





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