Hendra Virus confirmed on Far North Coast

2 Jun 2020

Hendra virus has been confirmed in a 17-year-old unvaccinated thoroughbred horse on a property south of Murwillumbah, on the far north coast of NSW.

The owner noticed the horse was depressed and having difficulty breathing on Friday, 29 May. A private veterinarian took samples for Hendra virus exclusion, but the horse deteriorated and was euthanised over the weekend.

NSW Chief Veterinarian Officer, Dr Sarah Britton said Hendra virus was confirmed late Monday evening.

“This is the first case of Hendra virus infection in NSW this year,” Dr Britton said.

“A District Veterinarian from the North Coast Local Land Services is undertaking risk assessments on the property in regards to other animals; at this stage no other animals are showing any signs of ill health and we will continue to monitor their health status.

“Hendra virus infection is notifiable in NSW under the NSW Biosecurity Act and the movement of animals and people on and off the property will be restricted for at least 21 days.”

The NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) has been working with Local Land Services to encourage private veterinarians and horse owners to be aware and undertake sound biosecurity.

In NSW, there have been 23 confirmed horse deaths as a result of Hendra virus since 2006, with most cases occurring on the north coast.

DPI is urging horse owners to remain vigilant as the signs of Hendra virus infection are very non-specific early on.

“The vaccination of horses is the most effective way to help manage Hendra virus disease,” Dr Britton said.

“Owners should also keep their horses away from flowering and fruiting trees that are attractive to bats.

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

If your horse is unwell, keep people and animals away from the horse and call your private veterinarian immediately.

If your vet is unavailable you can call a District Veterinarian with the Local Land Services or the Animal Biosecurity Emergency Hotline on 1800 675 888.

For more information about Hendra, visit the DPI website.

Media contact: (02) 6391 3686