Hendra virus is thought to be transmitted from fruit bats to horses and then, sometimes, to humans.
Hendra virus is thought to be transmitted from fruit bats to horses and then, sometimes, to humans. File Photo

Hendra inching closer to Gympie

THE Queensland Government has urged horse owners to take precautions following the death of a horse at Hervey Bay from Hendra virus.

Queensland chief vet Rick Symons said the horse was euthanised last week, the property had been quarantined and test results had shown positive for Hendra virus.

The virus was first discovered following a 1994 outbreak in a horse racing stable in Hendra, Brisbane.

It can spread from flying foxes to horses and, rarely, from horses to people.

Several hundred people exposed to horses with Hendra virus have escaped infection, but there have been seven confirmed infections in humans, with four deaths.

The few known cases of human Hendra virus infection have involved an influenza-like illness (which led to pneumonia in one case) with symptoms such as fever, cough, sore throat, headache and tiredness and/or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) with symptoms such as headache, high fever, and drowsiness, which progressed to convulsions and/or coma and death.

Time from exposure of a person to a sick horse until the start of illness in humans has been between five and 21 days.

In horses, early signs usually include fever, increased heart rate and restlessness and may also include difficulty breathing, weakness, unco-ordinated gait, muscle twitching and death.

While the exact route of infection is not known, it is thought that horses may contract infection from eating food recently contaminated by flying fox urine, saliva or birth products, according to government advice.

Gympie Times


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