Hendra virus is a disease that is spread from bats (flying foxes) to horses. Horses may then transmit the disease to humans or other animals. In horses, the disease is invariably fatal, and in humans it is very likely to be fatal or leave you with life- long issues.
While a case of Hendra virus has never been diagnosed in our area, it has been found not too far away on multiple occasions. As such, we must always be vigilant, especially with horses travelling to the coast or to Queensland.
There are a number of measures you can take to reduce the risk of Hendra virus:
- Avoid trees that attract flying foxes near horse paddocks- fruit trees and some native species
- Never feed horses under fruit trees
- Practice basic farm biosecurity and hygiene
The Hendra vaccination is very safe and incredibly effective. There has never been a case of a vaccinated horse become infected with Hendra virus. We recommend that all horses be vaccinated, but especially those who travel regularly.
Due to the risk of humans contracting Hendra virus, we may refuse to treat any unvaccinated horse that is showing signs that may be consistent with infection.
These signs include but are not limited to:
- Rapid onset of severe illness
- High temperature
- Respiratory distress
- Neurological distress (circling, blindness, mania)
If your horse is not vaccinated and we are concerned about Hendra virus infection we will take samples for testing at a government laboratory. We cannot treat your horse until we receive a negative result from the lab. To avoid this happening we strongly recommend that all horses are vaccinated.
We acknowledge that vaccinating for Hendra is not cheap, however we do not make a profit on the vaccines- we offer them at near cost price to encourage more people to vaccinate. Is the vaccine really worth more than your horses (or your own) life?