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Hendra Virus

For the first time Australia is faced with a deadly horse disease that is unique to our country.  The fact that this disease can be caught by and kill humans as well, just increases the fear and worry that we all feel.  It‘s no good saying that it‘s a rare event, because the devastation that it brings has a huge impact on equine owners, carers and industry. 
Hendra virus was first isolated in 1994 from an outbreak of disease in a racing stable located in the northern Brisbane suburb of Hendra less than 10km from the city centre. The outbreak resulted in death of a horse trainer and 13 horses and left a stable hand seriously ill. A further seven horses with evidence of exposure to the virus were humanely destroyed to avoid possible further spread of the disease.  Since Hendra virus was first isolated, significant progress has been made in understanding the virus, where it originates in nature, and how to detect infection and past exposure. Hendra virus and its close relation Nipah virus, both belong to a separate category of the Paramyxoviridae family, the Henipaviruses. In addition to a number of unique molecular characteristics, these viruses are distinguished from other members of the family by their ability to infect a broad range of species and fatally infect both animals and humans.  Nipah virus emerged in pigs and humans in Malaysia. Since then, over 470 known human infections and over 240 deaths have been linked to outbreaks of Nipah in Malaysia, Singapore, Bangladesh and India.  There have been no reported outbreaks in Australia.  

What to look for!
Common Clinical Signs

  • acute onset of illness 
  • increased body temperature 
  • increased heart rate 
  • discomfort/weight shifting between legs (both fore and hind limbs) 
  • depression 
  • rapid deterioration, usually with respiratory and/or neurological signs.

Scroll down to download Fact Sheets and important information.

"Vaccinate before it's too Late"


Bats and Trees
Hendra – Property Design
Hendra Virus
Hendra virus – Reducing the Risk
Managing Occupational Hendra Virus
Hendra virus horse owner guidelines
Hendra Guidelines for Vets
Hendra Virus disposal
Perspective on Hendra Virus
Hendra Article Peter Reid
Hendra Virus Disposal
EADRA - Hendra Response Policy Brief
The Queensland Horse Council Inc praises the performance of the Hendra virus vaccine for horses even though being advised that a technical hitch has delayed the 12 month duration of immunity testing.  QHC President Mrs Debbie Dekker said “Unfortunately the virus used to challenge the animals was not a lethal dose, and this became obvious when the unvaccinated control animals did not become sick.  In order for the tests to be reliable, it is important that the vaccinated horses are exposed to a lethal dose of Hendra virus.”  “This means that the study needs to be repeated, and early 2014 is the earliest that appropriately vaccinated horses will be available for testing.”  Mrs Dekker reassures horse owners, “The good news is that Field studies have shown that horses receiving booster vaccinations at either 6mths or 12mths after their primary course of injections show an excellent response to the boosters.   Read more
The quarantine on the Gold Coast property has been revoked. This property was an adjacent neighbour to a property where Hendra virus was confirmed in a horse on 5 July 2013. The quarantine was lifted after monitoring and testing protocols were completed on animals assessed to be at risk of exposure to the virus. There are currently no properties under quarantine for Hendra virus in Queensland.
The revised AUSVETPLAN Hendra virus response policy brief has been released. This response policy brief provides national guidance on the management of a Hendra virus incident in animals.    
The Qld Horse Council stresses the need to be aware that Hendra virus can occur wherever there are flying foxes and horses, and because of the large area that flying foxes travel over, can occur across a large proportion of the state and at any time of the year. For information about how you can reduce the risks to yourself and your horse please read our fact sheets:-
Bats & Trees
Hendra – Property Design
Hendra Virus – Reducing the Risk
Hendra Virus