Cash – a strong, healthy horse dearly loved by his owners – had to be put down on Monday after contracting Hendra virus.
Cash – a strong, healthy horse dearly loved by his owners – had to be put down on Monday after contracting Hendra virus. Contributed

Govt announces Hendra virus funds

THE State and Federal governments will fund a $600,000 Hendra virus vaccine trial after a horse had to be put down on the Sunshine Coast last week.

Queensland Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin said the state and federal governments would each provide $300,000 for the trial, amid the latest Hendra scare in the state.

A previous trial of the vaccine, being developed by the CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory, was carried out on ferrets.

Mr Mulherin said the $600,000 would take research to the next level and look at how the vaccine works in horses.

The funding was announced after families and horse owners affected begged the government to help out.

Nambour MP Peter Wellington called for a cull of fruit bats, which carry the disease, if the government did not agree to immediate vaccine funding.

But he warned years of work on the vaccine remain ahead, and the community must continue to be vigilant against the disease.

Coast mother and daughter lose 'best friend'

REBECCA Day and her daughter Mollie lost their “best friend” to the Hendra virus.

Cash, a six-year-old gelding and beloved family pet, had to be put down last Monday after contracting the deadly infection.

Now the Tewantin family is facing an anxious wait to get the all-clear from health authorities.

Nine other people were also exposed to the virus and face the same fate.

The Days don’t want anyone else to experience their devastation and hope to stop Hendra from “continuing to harm horses and humans”.

They are calling on the horse community to help raise money to fast track a Hendra virus vaccine trial.

The CSIRO is working on a vaccine for horses which it hopes to have commercially available within five years.

However, to date the State Government has refused to commit to the vaccine.

Ms Day said if all horse owners banded together, there would be no need to wait for government funding.

“About $600,000 in total is needed for entire testing to be carried out, however initial testing can begin with just $50,000,” she said.

“If every horse owner donates $5 to $10 to the trust fund set up by Queensland Horse Council the CSIRO will be able to begin testing immediately.”

Ms Day said it seemed so senseless to lose such a beautiful animal without warning.

“I’d really like for something positive to come out of it, and for everyone to know they can help stop this happening again.

“People need to realise that it can happen to them too, and all horse owners need to work together to ensure testing gets started.”

Ms Day said her daughter’s horse Cash was a beautiful, strong and healthy six-year-old gelding.

“To see the effect Hendra virus had on him was heartbreaking,” she said.

“No child or horse owner of any age should have to see their beloved animal affected that way.

“I have been around horses my whole life and never thought Hendra would affect me.”

Ms Day said it was also important to increase the awareness of Hendra

“When we went to feed Cash on Monday, he was a little bit wobbly on his legs,” she said.

“His nose was scrunched up like he had a stroke or something.

“No-one else probably would have picked that up.”

Ms Day said people could be sure that their donations would go directly to the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Lab.

“This is how the fund has been set up, money cannot be dispersed anywhere but to the CSIRO AAHL for Hendra Vaccine research,” she said

“I really beg all horse owners to get on board with this and help out. If we all donate just a small amount we can have some really positive outcomes.”

How to help

Donations to the vaccine fund can be made online to: BSB 034189 A/C 300490 Account name: QLD Horse Council Hendra Vaccine Fund

Donations via mail: Cheque or money order (cheques crossed not negotiable) to QLD Horse Council Hendra Vaccine Fund mail to QLD Horse Council Inc, Hendra Vaccine Development Fund, 438 Middle Road, Purga QLD 4306

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