Dusty, the dog who tested positive for Hendra virus exposure on a Queensland farm, has been euthanized. The owners confirmed through their Member of Parliament that their pet had been euthanized voluntarily, rather than waiting for Biosecurity Queensland to compel them to do so.
Based on publicly available information, this seems like an illogical and unnecessary response, as well as an unethical approach by the government when they didn’t explain the implications of testing when they ask for voluntary testing of the dog.
The family said he was euthanized because "most recent blood tests confirmed that he carried Hendra virus antibodies, which meant he was able to shed the virus to other animals." However, that’s false. If government officials told them that, that’s incredibly frustrating, disappointing and concerning. Antibodies have nothing to do with being infectious. I carry antibodies in my blood to a wide range of viral diseases that I’ve had over the course of my life. That doesn’t mean that I still have the viruses in circulation. The presence of antibodies simply means the body has been exposed and mounted an immune response.
All information that I’ve seen so far indicates that there’s no evidence that the dog was shedding virus and a potential infectious risk. Further, an experimental study from 1994 showed that infected dogs did not shed the virus. So, unless there are new data that aren’t being released, euthanasia is a completely unnecessary and illogical response, probably based more on fear of liability than any evidence or reasonable assessment of risk. It would have been better to quarantine and monitor to dog, to prevent unnecessary euthanasia and learn more about this virus in dogs.
If information indicating a true risk is present, that needs to be released so that other pet owners in Queensland know the situation. If not, common sense needs to be used when dealing with this disease.
Another blog entry from Equid Blog http://www.equidblog.com/admin/trackback/255226