By NewsDesk  @infectiousdiseasenews

Officials in New South Wales (NSW) are reporting the first case of Hendra virus infection in NSW this year in a 17-year-old unvaccinated thoroughbred horse on a property south of Murwillumbah.


The owner noticed the horse was depressed and having difficulty breathing on Friday, 29 May. A private veterinarian took samples for Hendra virus exclusion, but the horse deteriorated and was euthanised over the weekend.

NSW Chief Veterinarian Officer, Dr Sarah Britton said, A District Veterinarian from the North Coast Local Land Services is undertaking risk assessments on the property in regards to other animals; at this stage no other animals are showing any signs of ill health and we will continue to monitor their health status.

“Hendra virus infection is notifiable in NSW under the NSW Biosecurity Act and the movement of animals and people on and off the property will be restricted for at least 21 days.”

“The vaccination of horses is the most effective way to help manage Hendra virus disease,” Dr Britton said.

“Owners should also keep their horses away from flowering and fruiting trees that are attractive to bats.

“Do not place feed and water under trees and cover feed and water containers with a shelter so they cannot be contaminated from above.”

Since 2006, 23 confirmed horse deaths as a result of Hendra virus have been reported in NSW.

Hendra virus is a zoonotic disease, which means it can transfer from animals to people. The virus was first isolated in 1994 in horses at a racing stable in Hendra, Brisbane.

Flying foxes are a natural reservoir for Hendra virus. Flying foxes do not show any signs of illness when infected with Hendra virus.

Hendra virus can cause disease in horses but only rarely in humans. It can be transmitted from flying fox to horse, horse to horse, and horse to human.

There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted from flying fox to human, or human to horse, or human to human. The few cases of Hendra virus infection in people have been the result of very close contact with respiratory secretions (e.g. mucus) and/or blood from an infected horse.