Below is some extra information to help clarify the Hendra virus situation. This is mainly with regards to preventative measures, spreading and containment of the virus and how this affects horse movement. This information has been compiled by Roger Lavelle from the Australian Horse Industry Council
Dear AHIC Members
Please find below an update on the current Hendra situation in Queensland and New South Wales. I have been joining the teleconferences run by Biosecurity Queensland. There have been five so far.
1. It appears that none of the cases triggered “this could be a Hendra response” from either the owners or the veterinarians at the time of consultation.
2. This emphasises the vague and varied signs of Hendra.
3. There appeared to be poor understanding of the “movement restrictions” by the horse industry. A number of horse people believed that the restrictions were similar to those for E.I.. The media have not made the differences clear.
4. There was great concern for all the people who might have been exposed. The first round testing results have been clear. There was some concern the Queensland Health was not giving everyone monoclonal antibody immediately.
5. Tracing history would suggest that all contact horses have been identified and quarantined with testing for Hendra implemented.
6. Concern was expressed that whilst there was good information about flying fox activities there was perhaps not enough information on how the properties were managed, feed levels, body score of horses and grazing patterns etc.
- That advice needs to be given to the horse industry on a regular basis to ensure that important information is properly understood. e.g…
- Hendra movement restrictions limited to horse and horse products moving on and off the property. People can move freely with sensible biosecurity. All movements elsewhere are open access whereas :
- EI an initial national standstill with ongoing zone movement restrictions of horses and people.
Horse owners need to be vigilant but cautious in approaching or handling the horse or horses. If concerned they should call their veterinarian, the appropriate Primary Industry Department or the hot line 1800 675 888.
- Queensland Health advised that the monoclonal antibody is experimental and that Ethics Committee approval would be required before it could be used. It would be even more tragic should the monoclonal antibody cause some awful side effect in someone who did not need it. I believe the experts in the field should be left to their judgement on the management of people with exposure to the virus.
- The matter of overall property assessment is being addressed and a stakeholders meeting has been arranged for tomorrow to further this issue and other matters of concern. It would be disappointing if there had not been high quality assessments of all the properties where Hendra virus cases had occurred.
- The people at risk are being helped by friends, colleagues, BQ and QH with appropriate counselling. I am sure we all wish them a clean bill of health.
- As the flying foxes are still believed to be the mode of transmission and there are specific trees they enjoy visiting it makes sense to fence off around the trees if possible. If this is difficult, feeding should not take place under the trees nor should there be water troughs, etc.
I will try to attend as many of the teleconferences as possible and I am happy to try and answer any questions that members may have and to pass on any concerns or advice that anyone believes is helpful.
This is a yet another wake up call for us all about the need for better biosecurity, vigilance, caution and appropriate reporting.