Properties discover Hendra virus

TWO new properties at South Ballina and Mullumbimby, on the NSW North Coast, have been infected with the Hendra virus, NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) confirmed today.

“Two horses have died on a South Ballina property and one horse has died on a Mullumbimby property,” NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth said.

“The dead horses on the South Ballina property were reported by a neighbour and sampled by a LHPA district vet. The precise time of death for these two horses is currently unknown.

“The horse on the Mullumbimby property was reportedly behaving oddly and died suddenly. A private veterinarian took blood and swab samples from the dead horse.

“All samples were sent to NSW DPI’s Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute for laboratory analysis – results confirmed the Hendra virus last night for both properties.

“Both properties have been quarantined and movement restrictions are in place for all remaining horses.

“Four remaining horses on the South Ballina property and one horse at the Mullumbimby property are currently showing no signs of illness and will be monitored twice daily.

“Following an initial test, further laboratory testing will be carried out 16 and 32 days following the last contact with the infected horses.”

Dr Roth said seven properties in NSW have now been affected by Hendra virus, with nine horses now dead from the virus.

“Hendra virus can spread from flying foxes to horses and, rarely, from horses to people, and just once in Queensland from horses to a dog,” he said.

“It’s critical horse owners maintain vigilance against this virus.

“People should keep horses away from fruiting and flowering trees that might attract fruit bats or other areas where bats are known to congregate.

“NSW DPI and the Livestock Health and Pest Authorities are working with private veterinarians to undertake extensive property checks across NSW and manage the five quarantined properties.”

Hendra in NSW snapshot (since 30/6/2011):

  • 7 properties have been confirmed positive for the Hendra virus - Wollongbar, Macksville, Lismore, Ballina, South Ballina and two properties at Mullumbimby.
  • 9 horse deaths.
  • 153 properties have been confirmed as negative for the Hendra virus, with further confirmatory antibody testing still underway on some properties.
  • 5 properties are currently quarantined. Following extensive testing and decontamination, quarantine measures have been lifted at the Wollongbar and Macksville properties.    

NSW DPI advises horse owners to take precautions in areas with flying foxes - to reduce the risk of their horses becoming infected:

  • Place feed and water containers under cover.
  • Do not place feed and water under trees, especially trees with fruit.
  • Do not use feed that could attract flying foxes, such as apples, carrots, or molasses.
  • Remove horses from paddocks where fruiting or flowering trees have temporarily attracted flying foxes.
  • If it is not possible to remove the horse from the paddock, tape off the area under the tree.

More information on the Hendra virus is available at: www.agriculture.nsw.gov.au/info/hendra


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