Departmental news

Hendra virus case confirmed in Hervey Bay

News release | 16 July, 2011

Biosecurity Queensland has quarantined a property at Hervey Bay after test results from a deceased horse returned a positive result for Hendra virus infection.

Officers are also attending a site in the Boondall area following a suspect test result.

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Rick Symons said the Hervey Bay horse was euthanased two days ago and test results today had confirmed Hendra was the cause.

"There is one other horse on the property, which is being checked today," he said.

"At Boondall, a horse was euthanased yesterday and test results on this horse are due soon.

"In Queensland there are now five separate locations where Hendra virus cases are being managed by Biosecurity Queensland - Beaudesert, Mt Alford, Park Ridge, Kuranda and now Hervey Bay, with the possible addition of Boondall."

Dr Symons said it was very unusual to see so many cases cropping up in such a short period of time.

"It could be because of a heightened awareness of Hendra virus which is resulting in the high number of samples we are currently receiving for testing - up to five times as many samples for Hendra testing as we normally would," he said.

"There is clearly a heightened awareness among vets and horse owners about the possibility of Hendra virus infection when a horse becomes sick.

"Biosecurity Queensland and Queensland Health will continue to manage these cases and any others that may arise with our proven approach.

"That is quarantining affected properties, tracing movements to identify any other horses at risk, daily monitoring of horses and human health assessments.

"At the same time we are working closely with NSW authorities as part of the recently-announced interstate Hendra virus taskforce, which includes research into how flying foxes transmit the disease to horses."

Staff from Queensland Health's Public Health Unit will travel to both properties to assess the situation and whether any testing or treatment is required.
 
Queensland Health staff will undertake contact tracing work to ensure all people potentially exposed to the sick horse have been identified.
 
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young reassured the community that transmission of the virus required close contact with body fluids of the sick horse.
 
"There is no evidence the virus can be passed directly from flying foxes to humans, from the environment to humans, from humans to horses, or can be transmitted by airborne droplets," Dr Young said.
 
"Anyone who is concerned should contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84).
 
"Queensland Health stands ready to provide any assistance, counselling, information, testing or treatment that may be required."

Details of public information about Hendra virus for the Hervey Bay and Boondall areas will be finalised shortly.

Up to date information on Hendra virus is available at www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au, including important workplace health and safety information for horse properties and other horse related businesses.

For more information contact Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au.

Media contact: , Biosecurity Queensland - 07 3239 3010 / 0421 618 871 Queensland Health - 07 3234 1439