Killer horse virus spreads in Australia

Jul 02, 2011

Australian officials were on Saturday working to isolate potential victims after uncovering two more cases of the deadly horse-borne Hendra virus, which has erupted in a second state.

Spread to humans from , Hendra can lead to fatal respiratory illness and has killed four of the seven people who have contracted it in Australia since it was first documented in 1994.

A fresh outbreak was detected in northern Queensland state in June, with nine people undergoing tests after exposure to a sick animal.

Queensland authorities said they had discovered a second case, about 70 kilometres (40 miles) from the first farm, which had forced two horses to be put down. The outbreaks were not believed to be linked.

"Test results overnight have confirmed this as a case of Hendra ," Queensland said.

"There are eight other horses on the property that are being monitored closely."

Officials said as many as six people may have been exposed to the infected animal.

A third case had also been identified in neighbouring New South Wales state, according to biosecurity officials there, who stressed it was unlikely to be linked to the Queensland outbreaks.

It is only the second time Hendra has been found in New South Wales.

"The horse had been in a paddock containing a fig tree, so it is likely that flying foxes were the source of infection," state health director Jeremy McAnulty said.

Nine people exposed to the sick horse were being tested for the killer virus, but McAnulty said they were at low to medium risk.

"All of the that have occurred in the past have been linked to high level exposures to infected horses," he said.

Named after the Brisbane suburb in which is was first documented and believed unique to Australia, Hendra is believed to be carried by (flying foxes) and spread via their urine and droppings.

The bats, which have no symptoms of disease, then pass the infection to horses, possibly via half-chewed fruit or other water or food they contaminate, and these animals then transmit it to humans.

Around 50 horses have died, or had to be put down, in 15 outbreaks of the since 1994.

Explore further: Bad reputation of crows demystified

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Australia uses experimental drug to halt virus spread

Jun 01, 2010

An experimental drug so far only tested on animals has been given to an Australian woman and child in an effort to prevent an outbreak of a potentially deadly virus, health officials said Tuesday.

Minimising the spread of deadly Hendra virus

Mar 31, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- CSIRO Livestock Industries' scientists working at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), in Geelong Victoria, have made a major breakthrough in better understanding how Hendra spreads ...

Scientists Develop Vaccine Against Deadly Viruses

Oct 04, 2006

Scientists from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences (USU), in collaboration with counterparts from the Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), have developed a vaccine to fight two deadly animal viruses ...

Recommended for you

Bad reputation of crows demystified

Jan 23, 2015

In literature, crows and ravens arebad omens and are associated with witches. Most people believe they steal, eat other birds' eggs and reduce the populations of other birds. But a new study, which has brought ...

How gerbils orient in the light of the setting sun

Jan 23, 2015

A light brown remains light brown: For gerbils, the fur color of their conspecifics appears identical under different lighting conditions. The ability of color constancy in rodents has been demonstrated for ...

Snack attack: Bears munch on ants and help plants grow

Jan 22, 2015

Tiny ants may seem like an odd food source for black bears, but the protein-packed bugs are a major part of some bears' diets and a crucial part of the food web that not only affects other bugs, but plants too.

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.