Department of Agriculture urges Scenic Rim horse owners to vaccinate against Hendra virus

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

SCENIC RIM and Logan horse owners are urged to make sure their horses are vaccinated against Hendra virus infection.

Minister for Agriculture Mark Furner said Hendra could occur throughout the year, but in the past it had been more prevalent during the colder months.

"Vaccination of horses is the most effective way to help manage Hendra. It also provides a public health and work health and safety benefit by reducing the risk of virus transmission to humans and other susceptible animals," he said.

Biosecurity Queensland chief veterinary officer Dr Allison Crook said the Hendra virus vaccine first became available at the end of 2012. Since then, there had been very few cases in horses in Queensland.

"If a horse becomes sick, owners should contact their veterinarian immediately.

"People in contact with horses need to remember to continue to practise good biosecurity and personal hygiene measures, even if a horse is vaccinated against Hendra virus," Dr Crook said.

Typically, signs displayed by an animal infected by the Hendra virus include labored breathing, frothy and/or blood stained nasal discharge, neurological changes - loss of vision, tilting of the head, abnormal muscle twitching, weakness and a loss of balance - colic symptoms, loss of appetite, depression and an increased respiratory rate.

According to the RSPCA vaccination protocol involves an initial two doses, 21-42 days apart, a third vaccination at six months and then an annual booster.

For more information on prevention of Hendra virus or biosecurity steps in an incident, visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au or call 13 25 23.