August 2011 - News
Site Published:  16th April 2010
Last updated:   18th April 2010
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Page added:   18th April 2010
Updated:   4th November 2011
Trainers asked to monitor spelled horses- Trainers have been advised to check the level of risk of Hendra virus infection at the spelling properties from which horses are returning to their stables as horses coming from a paddock pose a greater risk than those already in the stable. Read more>

Three years ago a second review by N.Perkins / Ausvet was conducted on the handling of Hendra virus outbreaks (2008).  Full review document can be found here.  The owners that lost 4 horses in the Proserpine outbreak specifically raised the issue of dogs and other domestic animals after learning that animals other than horses had returned reactive tests at Redlands.  See extract here.  The veterinarian that diagnosed the first confirmed Peachester outbreak in 2006 also raised the issue of dogs and was unable to get testing of samples from two dogs that died.  The same vet also supported calls from a lady who was unable to get any investigation into the death of her mother and cats, who lived 200m from the colony involved in both the 2006 and 2007 confirmed outbreaks.  Read her story here.

Listen to a powerful message from Dr Nathan Hitchcock, sole Veterinarian in Gayndah, has admitted that due to the Hendra virus, that he is afraid to go to work. Greg Cary talks to the under-pressure vet to find out what he is going to do about his conundrum, when he is ethically required to attend to sick animals.  4BC Mornings Here:

On July 26, Chief Veterinary Officer for Biosecurity Queensland Hendra Virus Confirmed in a Dog (see bulletin here) he stated:

     “Biosecurity Queensland’s policy is to test cats and dogs on  properties where there are infected horses.
     “We don’t know how the dog contracted the virus or when it happened,”  he said.
     “Based on our knowledge to date, it is most likely that the dog caught the virus from an infected horse.

Dusty's owner informed me that the dog had not had any contact with the horses either when they were sick or after they died.  This begs the question of the source of Biosecurity's knowledge on this first known case of a dog contracting the virus outside the laboratory.

On Monday 1st August the CVO announced changes to policy and that Queensland horse owners who have had a Hendra outbreak on their property will have to submit any dogs, cats, guinea pigs and pigs for testing.  "Biosecurity Queensland has updated its policy on sampling pets other than horses for Hendra, in light of the case of Dusty the Kelpie."  Read more>

Perhaps the policy update was to include the guinea pigs and pigs because he had stated 5 days earlier that it was policy to test cats and dogs?   However, in today's Logan West Leader newspaper (3 August 2011), the owner Chris Rookwood that lost his horse to the virus 28th June and confirmed on the 22nd July positive to Hendra virus said,  "I've been expecting Biosecurity (Queensland officers) to say they want to test them (two dogs) but they haven't said anything and they still come every day to the horses."

If you get the feeling you are only being told part of the story, you would not be alone.  Thank you to all the people that have contacted me via the website, some valuable information has been submitted which will be included on the site as time permits.  
Update - 3rd August 2011
Update - 6th August 2011
Horse with Hendra Virus at Koah July 2011 Australia
Hendra Virus Mapping - Recent collaborative research work into mapping Hendra Virus in the flying fox population in Australia has identified factors presenting problems in the management of this virus and the risks to humans and animals.

"The inability to efficiently identify variants circulating in the natural host poses a significant constraint to the development of sensitive diagnostic tests, to response preparedness, and to risk management strategies."

"In 2009, we received joint WEDPP and Australian Biosecurity CRC funding to continue the project, detecting HeV genome in 37 of over 1000 pooled urine samples collected, allowing preliminary comparative phylogenetic analyses of HeV sequence from bat, horse and human, as well as providing insight into the temporal and spatial pattern of HeV infection in flying foxes. Our long-standing collaboration with Dr Linfa Wang’s group at the CSIRO Australian Animal Health laboratory (AAHL) resulted in the isolation of Hendra virus from PCR-positive samples on multiple occasions. The project has also yielded two new (yet to be characterized) paramyxoviruses in flying fox urine.

In this proposal, the key research questions are ‘What is the diversity of Hendra viruses occurring in Australia’ and ‘What is the spatio-temporal pattern and frequency of infection in flying fox populations’.
Objectives of this project:

*     Identification of the presence or absence of HeV infection in high-risk feral pig and horse populations
*     A more complete phylogenetic analysis of Hendra viruses circulating in flying foxes, with this year’s  
      surveillance targeting previously unsampled locations
*     Increased certainty regarding the spatio-temporal pattern of HeV infection in flying foxes.  

Source:  DAFF Read more>

Update - 7th August 2011
Update - 18th August 2011
Two New confirmed Hendra outbreaks
Two new properties at South Ballina and Mullumbimby, on the NSW North Coast, have been infected with the Hendra virus, NSW Department of Primary Industries (NSW DPI) confirmed today.

“Two horses have died on a South Ballina property and one horse has died on a Mullumbimby property,” NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth said.  “The dead horses on the South Ballina property were reported by a neighbour and sampled by a LHPA district vet. The precise time of death for these two horses is currently unknown. “The horse on the Mullumbimby property was reportedly behaving oddly and died suddenly. A private veterinarian took blood and swab samples from the dead horse.
Update - 17th August 2011
New Hendra virus case at Ballina
The State Virology Laboratory at EMAI confirmed late on 16 August 2011 that samples submitted from a gelding at Ballina were positive for Hendra virus. The samples were collected by a private vet after the horse was found comatose early on 15 August. The horse had been noticed to be off its food and behaving strangely (head down and wobbling from side to side) on the evening of 14 August. The horse was euthanased and buried on the property. 
There are 2 remaining horses on the property.
There are no trees on the property. 
Update - 20th August 2011
Be alert to hendra: victim
Mr Curran said up until this week, he had not seen hendra as a threat.  “On all the advice I had up until Monday, it was a Queensland problem as far as I was aware,” he said.  He had not heard of the recent hendra cases at Wollongbar, Lismore, Macksville and Mullumbimby, but said that regardless of that, his property was “completely different country” to what he believed made a property susceptible to hendra.“We're down here on the cane fields,” he said, “It's open, with a less tropical kind of climate.”
He said the fact that hendra had struck on such open countryside was “very unsettling” and warned horse owner everywhere to take precautions. Read more>
Update - 23rd August 2011
What riders are saying about Hendra Virus:

Pip Courtney from Landline visits the EKKA to see how the show set are dealing with surge in Hendra outbreaks this year. 
Time lapse from recording the program and airing has not kept up with the cases this year.  The number of confirmed outbreaks since June 20th this year, as at today stands at 15 separate outbreaks with no known links.  Nineteen horses have died from the virus as well as the first known case of anti-bodies being discovered in Dusty the dog.  Raised awareness to this deadly virus has not only seen an increase in recorded cases, but to date this year no humans have become infected, thankfully.
Landline - 21st August 2011
Why are we seeing so many cases now?  As Brett Warren said, more testing is likely bringing out more cases.  This combined with a few other reasons, raised awareness, more accurate Veterinary Guidelines that have allowed vets to have a better understanding of how this virus has presented, and also no restrictive criteria preventing testing.  Better laboratory testing is also likely to be playing a large part.   For a concise history of how the Queensland State Government has handled this virus since it was first discovered, Read More>
16th outbreak in two months - Hendra virus case confirmed on the Gold Coast
Biosecurity Queensland has confirmed a Hendra virus case on a property in the Gold Coast hinterland.   “Preliminary advice shows there have been two people who may have had limited contact with the horse.  Read more>
Update - 25th August 2011
Hear the latest on the research work being conducted at CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) as Gary Hartigan, Geoff Ablett and Dr Graham Jeffrey of the Equine Program on Casey Radio speak with Dr Deborah Middleton the Theme Leader working on Hendra virus at AAHL.  Slight technical difficulties in the streaming process disrupt the last couple of minutes of this interview, but it is well worth listening to the 35 minutes to hear what Dr Middleton has to say about the current outbreaks, our knowledge of the virus that is circulating in the flying foxes and also the progress of the horse vaccine.
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GPS tracking for flying foxes in Hendra Virus research first
In an Australian first, Queensland scientists are fitting flying foxes with GPS data loggers in an effort to find out where they are going and what they're up to.  Read more>
Update - 24th August 2011
A tenth horse has died from Hendra virus on a property north of Ballina
The horse died on Sunday morning at a property north of Ballina, on the NSW north coast, the NSW Department of Primary Industries said. It had been noticeably ill on Saturday and showed neurological changes including weakness and loss of balance.

This brings the number of outbreaks to 17 since 20th June 2011 with 8 cases in NSW and 9 in Queensland claiming 21 horses and 1 dog. 

Farmer slams Biosecurity's actions
BIOSECURITY Queensland has defended its handling of quarantine controls and animal testing after being criticised by a Fraser Coast farmer who claimed the department exposed his family to danger and failed his animals.
Mr Doyle criticised Biosecurity on the grounds that he believed he had been misled by veterinary staff acting with the authority of the organisation.
He said he had requested that the sick animal be tested for ailments other than hendra as he could not get a private vet to attend his property while under quarantine.  Read more>

Update - 30th August 2011
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