Another 3 horses have died from the hendra virus on the far north coast of New South Wales. The latest cases were recorded on properties at South Ballina and Mullumbimby.

It brings the number of horses killed by the virus in NSW in the past 8 weeks to 9. Another 10 horses in Queensland have died or been euthanized since June [2011]. More than 60 people have also been tested for hendra across NSW and Queensland.

A senior veterinarian with the NSW Department of Primary Industries, Ian Roth, says there had more recently been hope the disease had abated. "The 1st one was about the 28th of June and we had 4 cases in a month. We then had 3 weeks when we didn't have any cases and I guess we were a little bit hopeful," Mr Roth said. "But now we've had 3 (properties) in 2 days so we're not sure what the pattern is but I guess we just can't relax." The department announced yesterday that another horse had been put down on Monday [15 Aug 2011] after contracting hendra on a property near Ballina.

Researchers are currently working on a hendra vaccine for horses, with 12 million dollars [12 429 995 USD] promised for research by the NSW, Queensland and Federal governments.

Before June [2011] there had only ever been one previous confirmed case of hendra in NSW. The virus is carried by flying foxes, and the recent spate of cases has prompted calls for fruit bat culling.

Source: [edited]