Australian Veterinary Association urges owners to vaccinate horses

WARNING: Owners are being urged to vaccinate their horses of the deadly Hendra virus. Photo: Michelle Smith.
WARNING: Owners are being urged to vaccinate their horses of the deadly Hendra virus. Photo: Michelle Smith.

THE Australian Veterinary Association is reminding horse owners of the importance of vaccination to help prevent the deadly Hendra virus affecting their horses, with more cases being seen in the cooler months.

There have been more than 60 known Hendra incidents in Queensland and New South Wales, which caused the deaths of 102 horses since the virus was identified in 1994.

AVA’s equine group president Dr Ben Poole is urging horse owners to vaccinate their horses that were located in, around or travelling to high-risk Hendra areas along the east coast.

“Every one of these horses that has died because of Hendra represents one more compelling reason for horse owners to vaccinate their horses,” he said.

“The risk this disease poses to human health is also very real with seven confirmed cases in people leading to four deaths.

“So, it’s important that the horse community remains vigilant in protecting both horses and people from Hendra.”

Last year, the Hendra virus returned to the Scenic Rim, with one infected pony on Tamborine Mountain was euthanased.

It was the first recorded case of the deadly Hendra virus in Queensland in two years.

Queensland Health said none of the vet staff or residents linked to the Hendra virus case had been infected.

AVA confirmed the infected pony was not vaccinated against Hendra virus.

Dr Poole said the vaccine, introduced in 2012, was the most effective way to manage the Hendra virus and was registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.

“Vaccination of horses provides a public health and workplace health and safety benefit by reducing the risk of Hendra virus transmission to humans and other susceptible animals and helps to ensure high standards of animal health and welfare,” he said.

Horse owners should contact their local veterinarian for more information about Hendra virus vaccination, which is a very important part of their horse health and welfare strategy.