Horse at Murwillumbah dies from Hendra virus

UPDATE: NSW Department of Primary Industries has confirmed Hendra virus as the cause of death of a horse near Murwillumbah.

DPI Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth said the dead horse has been buried and the property will be placed in quarantine today.

"The 19-year-old gelding died on Saturday afternoon after showing typical Hendra symptoms, including lethargy, for two to three days prior," Mr Roth said.

"Samples from the horse were sent for laboratory analysis and results confirmed the Hendra virus.

"An additional Murwillumbah property that received a gelding which had been in contact with the sick horse will also be quarantined."

Two other horses and two dogs on the same property are being monitored while tracing is underway to confirm movements on or off the property. 

Staff from Local Land Services are working closely with the property owners and NSW Health have assessed a number of people who had contact with the horse.

This is the first Hendra case in NSW this year.

DPI confirmed the horse had not been vaccinated for Hendra virus.

NSW DPI encouraged horse owners to see their veterinarians and work out their vaccination strategy against Hendra virus.

"Winter is the season when horses have been infected with Hendra in NSW in the past - so now is the time to get a vaccine booster for your horse," Mr Roth said.

"Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses."

Mr Roth said people in contact with horses need to practice good biosecurity and personal hygiene measures even if a horse is vaccinated against Hendra virus.

"Horses should be kept away from flowering and fruiting trees that are attractive to bats," Mr Roth said.

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

"People should avoid touching sick horses but if they need to come into direct contact ensure they are wearing gloves and a protective mask and avoid any contact with secretions from the animal."

Horse owners and vets are encouraged to download the latest information on Hendra virus from the DPI website and if a horse becomes sick, owners should contact their vet immediately.


INITIAL REPORT: A HORSE at a Murwillumbah property has been quarantined after being diagnosed with the Hendra virus.

The horse was treated by Baldwin Equine Veterinary Services owner Greg Baldwin.

Mr Baldwin is meeting with Biosecurity NSW authorities this morning, News Corp have reported.

Hendra virus is spread by flying foxes and can be lethal to animals.

More details to come.

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