Hendra vaccination a community concern

The news that the Hendra virus has returned to the Scenic Rim is particularly troubling.

It is incredibly sad that a pony had to be euthanased after contracting the disease and our hearts go out to the owner.

It is even more sad that this horse was not vaccinated for the Hendra virus, a process which may have saved its life. 

As a region we rely heavily on the equine industry for both professional and recreational activities.

Thousands of people who live and work in the Scenic Rim and surrounds come into contact with horses everyday and the spread of Hendra has the potential to take human lives as well.

Last year a state government inquiry found it should not be mandatory for all horses to have the Hendra vaccine, despite evidence given by experts that it was the most effective way to stamp out the virus.

The inquiry made 11 recommendations, including changes to workplace safety laws to limit the liability of veterinarians when treating horses that may have the virus.

But by not making it mandatory to have the vaccine, they have given the disease a reprieve.

Hendra remains a risk for horses wherever there are flying foxes.

Horses that get infected generally die.

If people get the virus from infected horses they will likely die too.

The inquiry sat at Jimboomba and heard from veterinarians, industry groups, trainers and breeders from the Scenic Rim.

Some owners thought the vaccine had side effects but one of the main arguments for not making it mandatory was the cost.

Some people seem to think vaccinating their animal can be fairly expensive but when the price of preventing your horse from contracting the disease is weighed up, the widely available vaccination is worth every cent.

The price of vaccination has been compared by veterinarians to the purchase of a pair of shoes for a horse, which makes it seem quite reasonable.

As a result of the government’s decision, the onus is squarely on owners to vaccinate their horses against this deadly virus.

Not only for their horses sake, but for the protection of other horses, handlers and most importantly the lives of veterinarians who put themselves at risk to keep animals safe.