Hendra variant case confirmed near Newcastle

8 Oct 2021

A variant Hendra virus strain has been confirmed in a 7-year-old unvaccinated Clydesdale from West Wallsend, near Newcastle.

The detection of the virus was confirmed through testing at NSW Department of Primary Industries’ (DPI) Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute laboratory and at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness.

DPI has routinely tested all Hendra submissions over the past 6 months for the variant Hendra strain following a retrospective detection by researchers in a Queensland horse.

A private vet attended the affected horse in response to a report that the animal was showing neurological signs, collected samples for testing and notified DPI. The affected horse was euthanised.

No other horses on the property are showing any signs of ill health.

A District Veterinarian from Hunter Local Land Services has issued an Individual Biosecurity Direction to control the movement of animals and people on and off the property for 21 days.

Public health officers from Hunter region are undertaking risk assessments of any people who have had contact with the infected horse.

Most Hendra cases in NSW have been on the north coast, with a case at Scone in 2019 being the most southern case. Vaccination of horses is the most effective way to help manage Hendra virus disease.

There have been 24 horse deaths in NSW as a result of Hendra virus on 23 properties since the first case in 2006. There have been no human deaths from Hendra virus in NSW.

Hendra virus infection is notifiable in NSW under the NSW Biosecurity Act.

Signs of infection are non-specific in the early stages and anyone who is concerned about possible Hendra infection should isolate the horse and seek veterinary advice.

If a private vet is unavailable and the illness is progressing rapidly, call the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline on 1800 675 888.

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