Sunday, July 26, 2015

A horse infected with Hendra virus has died in north Queensland, the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries says.

Queensland chief veterinary officer Dr Allison Crook said an Atherton Tablelands property had been quarantined after the horse died on the site earlier this week.

"This is the first case of Hendra virus detected in Queensland this year," Dr Cook said.

"There are a number of other horses on the property and we'll be monitoring them over the coming weeks.

Biosecurity staff will also be conducting tracing to confirm whether the infected horse had any contact with other horses in the area.

"While the property is under quarantine, there are restrictions on the movement of horses and materials on and off the property," Dr Cook said.

Dr Crook said Hendra virus infection could occur throughout the year, so it was important that horse owners took steps to protect themselves and their animals at all times.

"Vaccination is the best defence against Hendra virus infection and horse owners should discuss their options with their veterinarian," she said.

The Katter's Australian Party's Dalrymple MP Shane Knuth said while vaccinating horses is one solution, authorities should also tackle the threat posed by flying foxes, which can spread the virus.

"I still reiterate my call to ensure councils have that greater autonomy to remove flying foxes from residential areas, and to ensure councils - like they've called for in the Local Government conference - to have that extra funding to support councils to remove those flying foxes."

Hendra was first identified in 1994, with the Australian Veterinary Association saying 70 per cent of horses that have tested positive have died from the disease.

Between 1994 and 2012, seven Australians have been confirmed to have been infected, four of whom have died as a result of the disease.

Queensland Health has been asked for updated figures.

Source: ABC News

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