Site Published:  16th April 2010
Last updated:   18th April 2010
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Page added:   18th April 2010
Updated:   25th June 2013
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Dr Peter Reid - on Casey Radio  27th May 2010

Exclusive Interview with
Dr Deborah Middleton
on Casey Radio
13th May 2010

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Location Horse Deaths Horses Quarantined Properties
Exposed to
Infected Horses
Bat Colony Roosting at Property Bats Feeding or Occassionally Seen
18 Beachmere 3 1 1 ? NO Nearest colony approx 5klm
17 North Ballina 1 - 1 ? ? Flowering trees
16 Currumbin Valley (Qld) 1 22 1 2 ? ?
15 Mullumbimby (NSW) 1 1 1 ? ? ?
14 South Ballina (NSW) 2 4 1 ? ? ?
13 Ballina (NSW) 1 2 1 ? NO NO TREES
12 Mullumbimby (NSW) 1 8 1 3 No Fig Tree
11 Chinchilla 1 5 2 6 No Not seen
10 Logan (died 28/6/11) 1 0 0 6 ? ?
9 Lismore (NSW) 1 1 1 ? No Likely
8 Boondall (Qld) 1 6 2 Yes ? ?
7 Hervey Bay (Qld) 1 1 1 Yes ? ?
6 Kuranda (Nth Qld) 1 36 1 4 No Flight path
5 Macksville (NSW) 1 3 1 ? No Yes
4 Logan - Park Ridge (SE Qld) 1 ? 4 2 No ?
3 Mt Alford (SE Qld) 3 7 1 6 No Not seen
2 Wollongbar (NSW) 2 - 1 9 No Likely
1 Kerry - Beaudesert (SE Qld) 1 - 2 9 No Yes
  Total 24          
        Quaranti ne is lifted after 3 rounds of testing clearing remainin g animals of infection
Note: 1st horse on Beachm ere property not tested
As the toll continues to rise and details come to hand, further updates will be included here and on the page Sick Horses - How do the really present?
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Update - 3rd November 2011
Queensland Government's handling of Hendra deficient, says Ombudsman Phil Clarke

SYSTEMIC failures across several departments plagued the Queensland Government's handling of Hendra virus outbreaks, a report has found.

Queensland Ombudsman Phil Clarke has released the findings of his investigation into the way Government agencies responded to six incidents of Hendra between June 2006 and October 2009.

The investigation identified outdated and inconsistent policies and procedures, as well as dated and overlapping legislation that led to inconsistent quarantine practices.   Read more>

To get a copy of the Ombudsman report The Hendra Virus Report here:
Bureaucrat claims Queensland's Ombudsman botched Hendra report
Koren Helbig - The Courier-Mail - November 04, 2011

Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation boss Ian Fletcher said the report by Ombudsman Phil Clarke, released yesterday, had inaccuracies and outdated information, quoted officers out of context and misconstrued evidence.  Read more>

Bligh says govt acted before Hendra report
Larine Statham - November 3, 2011

The Queensland government had made significant changes to the way it handled Hendra virus outbreaks well before the ombudsman released a critical report, Premier Bligh says.

Ombudsman Phil Clarke's investigation found systemic failures hampered the Labor government's response to six Hendra outbreaks between June 2006 and October 2009.   Read more>

Worth noting here that the Ombudsman investigation began in 2009 and the Department was aware of the investigation.   The proposed final report was completed in April 2011 and sections provided to the principal officers of the various Departments under investigation, just 2 months before the first recorded outbreak of Hendra this year.  Since then 18 separate outbreaks have been detected across Queensland and New South Wales.

Watchdog slams State over poor response to deadly Hendra virus
by: Koren Helbig- The Courier-Mail

In a scathing report released Thursday morning, Ombudsman Phil Clarke found policies and procedures were outdated, quarantine practices were inconsistent and there was inadequate communication with vets and horse owners.

The Government had also failed to implement recommendations from previous internal and external reports and did not properly train staff, contractors and property owners.  Read more>

To get a copy of the Ombudsman report The Hendra Virus Report here:
Update - 4th November 2011
Exclusive Interview with
Dr Deborah Middleton
on Casey Radio
25th August 2011

Update - 2nd December 2011
Investigation of the Climatic and Environmental Context of Hendra Virus Spillover Events 1994–2010
Citation: McFarlane R, Becker N, Field H (2011) Investigation of the Climatic and Environmental Context of Hendra Virus Spillover Events 1994–2010. PLoS ONE 6(12): e28374. Doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0028374:  Editor: Anthony R. Fooks, Veterinary Laboratories Agency, United Kingdom

This study demonstrates a significant association with the dry season for spillover events 1994–2010. A consistent pattern of lower rainfall, temperature and recurrent primary productivity is evident at all sites between May and October. However, no pattern of within-seasonal variation emerges that distinguishes event months from non-events. Conditions for environmental persistence of active virus are not met more frequently in the month of events. Lower temperatures occur regularly for 1–2 months mid-year in the southern locations where the majority of events occur (6 events have occurred in the S.E. Queensland bioregion, which includes the northern N.S.W. event). Peachester, where two spillover events have occurred, has 5 months with median monthly temperatures below 22°C annually (and is also closest to a permanent flying fox roost of all locations). It is extremely unusual for temperatures of 37°C, or greater, to occur at any of these coastal sites. No other pattern was discerned from within-season variation of rainfall or temperature.
Read Online at PLoS ONE here

What this study does not, nor could it take into account, the factors that were preventing cases being detected, as has been clearly demonstrated this year and published on this website.  Testing methods have been improved, increasing the sensitivity to the testing, raised awareness and hence greater numbers of samples being submitted.  The ridiculous tight criteria in the vet guidelines previously preventing recognition of suspect cases and as reported in the Ombudsman's report, veterinarians were having difficulties in getting access to the testing.  Statistically the more testing, the more cases will be detected.
The Minister endorses the message this website has been promoting for two years!

"Hendra Virus is a relatively new virus and until recently Queensland was the only place in the world where it was known to exist.
"However, after this year Hendra is now not just a Queensland problem - it is a national issue and we need to approach it accordingly," he said. 
Read More>

Thoroughbred breeders snubbed at Hendra congress

Thoroughbred Breeders Queensland Association president Basil Nolan said was disappointed both the TBQA and Thoroughbred Breeders Australia (TBA) were not allowed to participate in the congress.

"The TBQA has been at the forefront of the push for a Hendra Virus vaccine as far back as 2008 and has worked tirelessly to assist Biosecurity Queensland disseminate the correct information concerning the disease since the tragic death of Dr Alistair Rogers in 2009," Mr Nolan said.

"We have on numerous occasions written to government bodies showing our support for the work Biosecurity Queensland and the DPI have been doing in regards to Hendra, long before this latest cluster of outbreaks and we even organised and promoted our own Hendra Virus seminar in 2009.  Read More>

Unfortunately, the TBQA have been unwittingly promoting some inaccurate information.  Indeed they have been proactive in disseminating information about the virus on their website.  They have available slide show presentations that were presented by officials at their seminar in November 2009, including the former CVO's presentation who continued to promote the most severe clinical signs such as fever over 40 and copious nasal discharge by using this photo, despite the vet guidelines having these restrictions removed in April 2009.
Update - 8th December 2011
This topic has been covered extensively here on this page Sick Horses - How do they really present also History Repeats which shows how the 2006 Independent Review clearly states the restrictive criteria on the veterinary guidelines was to be favoured to reduce attendant demands on resources and costs associated with investigation and response, including declaration of quarantine.

The Government did not want to have vets find cases, it was more convenient to keep this rare.
This year the Queensland Government knew they were under investigation and could no longer get away with ignoring vets concerns, nor could they get away with discouraging vets from submitting samples.   Statistically, the more testing they do, the more cases they will find.  To direct any of the research funding towards investigating this so called spike in cases this year can only be seen as a further misuse of vital funding.  Hendra is a notifiable disease, it is deadly and it is here to stay.  If the recommendations made by the Ombudsman are adopted and the same level of sampling done in the future, it is most likely they will find this year was not unprecedented but closer to the norm.
Unexpected Result of Hendra Virus Outbreaks for Veterinarians, Queensland, Australia
Diana H. MendezComments to Author , Jenni Judd, and Rick Speare
Author affiliations: James Cook University, Townsville, Queensland, Australia

The Study
During 2009–2010, we conducted face-to-face, in-depth interviews with 21 veterinarians and allied staff from 14 equine and mixed private veterinary practices from a range of urban and rural areas between Cairns and Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (Table 1) (10). We asked a series of open-ended questions to determine what HeV-related infection-control and workplace health and safety issues confront equine practices (Table 2). Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for themes.

Of the 20 veterinary professionals interviewed, 12 (60%) had dealt with >1 suspected cases of HeV, and 7 (35%) had dealt with a confirmed case of HeV. Of the 18 veterinarians interviewed, 4 (22%) reported having ceased equine practice, and as many as 8 (44%) knew of >1 colleagues who had done so in the previous 12 months. The decisions to quit were mostly motivated by the HeV-related fear for personal safety and legal liability. READ MORE>

Dead horses too decayed for hendra tests

The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries has confirmed it has not tested 25 dead horses for hendra virus or taken any other toxicology tests.

The gruesome discovery, just off the New England Highway near Glen Innes, in the state's north-west, was made after police received a tip-off at the weekend.

Department spokesman Brett Fifield says vets from the Livestock Health and Pest Authority determined that blood and tissue testing could not be done.   Read more>
Update - 20th December 2011
Update - 13th December 2011
Profectus BioSciences, Inc. Receives $5.4M Grant to Develop a Monocolonal Antibody Against Infection by  Nipah/Hendra Viruses   By Benzinga Staff

Profectus BioSciences, Inc. (Profectus), a leader in the development of therapeutic and preventive vaccines against infectious diseases and cancers, announced today it has received a grant under the Partnerships for Biodefense RFA by the Division of Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, NIH. This $5.4M award supports the preclinical development of m102.4, an antibody intended as a post-exposure prophylactic against Nipah or Hendra virus infection.

Nipah virus (NiV) and Hendra virus (HeV) are closely related Paramyxoviruses that cause a respiratory and encephalitis disease in a variety of animal hosts and in humans. The natural reservoir for these viruses is thought to be flying foxes (bats of the genus Pteropus) found in Southeast Asia and Malaysia. Human infection occurs after exposure to direct exposure to tissues and secretions from infected horses, pigs, and bats. There is currently no approved therapeutics against either NiV or HeV and death is certain for approximately 75% of the cases.  Read more>
Update - 5th January 2012
The first case of the deadly Hendra Virus for 2012 has been detected near Townsville
A CASE of the potentially fatal Hendra virus has been confirmed on a property near Townsville with four people under observation for 'low level' exposure.    Read More>
Location Horse Deaths Horses Quarantined Properties
Exposed to
Infected Horses
Bat Colony Roosting at Property Bats Feeding or Occassionally Seen
8 Ingham (Qld) 1 8 1 4 NO ?
7 Between Cairns & Port Douglas 1 13 1 ? ? ?
6 Cairns 1 18 3 5 NO
Occassionally seen flying over
5 Rockhampton 3 2 1 1 ? ?
4 Mackay (Qld) 1 ? 3 1 N ?
3 Ingham (Qld) 1 5 1 2 N N
2 Nerimbera (near Rockhampton) Qld 1 8 1 ? N ?
1 Townsville (Qld) 1 5 1 4 ? ?
        Quaranti ne is lifted after 3 rounds of testing clearing remainin g animals of infection
Outbreaks can happen at any time of the year, anywhere that there is flying fox activity.
DOMESTIC cats have the potential to contract the fatal Hendra virus and pass it to humans, Queensland's chief veterinary officer says.

Dr Rick Symons says studies are being done to better understand how Hendra spreads, its effects on family pets and how dogs and cats can pass the virus to humans.

"The limited information we have is that it doesn't seem to affect the dogs," Dr Symons told AAP.

"Cats can certainly get it and spread it.  Read More>

Interesting that the CVO is making such bold statements in the press this weekend, considering the Department and the scientists working on the virus have known since 1996 that cats were susceptible to the virus and could also transmit the virus.  This has been exposed previously on this website two year ago (see Be Alert Not Alarmed) because the veterinarian that diagnosed a live case of Hendra in a horse at Peachester in 2006 was asked by the then Director General to correct her statements in a newsletter to prevent unnecessary anxiety in the public.

Will the Queensland Health Department now allow for the remains of Tania Benholz to be sent to AAHL to be examined to find out if she did die from Hendra virus, given that her two cats died around the same time? 

Clinical Symptoms of the horse confirmed positive last week:

The three-year-old horse was first seen to be unwell on the morning of Tuesday 3 January 2012. A private veterinarian examined the horse on Tuesday 3 January 2012 and collected samples for Hendra virus testing.  The horse was recorded as having an acute onset of the following clinical signs:
   ·       blindness
   ·       ataxia
   ·       HR 48 RR 24
   ·       temperature 39.9#C
   ·       injected oral MM
   ·       CRT > 4 seconds
   ·       clotting time two minutes
   ·       ileus
   ·       facial swelling
   ·       bilateral serous nasal discharge
   ·       dull demeanour.

From the CVO Communique No 1 - 5 January read here.

The 19th outbreak in a little over six months, and this case, like 23 of the 24 horse deaths since June 2011, this one would also not have met the previous strict criteria on the Veterinary guidelines to have been considered a suspect case. 
Update - 7th January 2012
Update - April 2012
On March 24th 2012, Queensland sent a loud message to the politicians that we were fed up with the incompetence, waste and lies.  "Bligh government slain in a bloodbath"  

Hendra virus was first discovered in 1994 with the outbreak at Vic Rail's stables, the authorities under the then Goss Government were slammed for their handling of this newly discovered deadly disease that killed not only horses but humans.  The virus supposedly disappeared and no further outbreaks were 'recorded' until 1999. (see The History of HeV Management)

1998 to 2008 Under the Beattie / Bligh Government the authorities got away with largely ignoring the virus and the deadly consequences, by misleading the population over the clinical symptoms that presented in horses (documented in the first outbreak).  It is disturbing to see that the President of the AVA (Australian Veterinary Association) is still promoting one of the misleading factors that Hendra horses will have a fever over 40oC.  Wrong!  Also disturbing that the AVA  are warning vets and horses owners to prepare for the upcoming Hendra season
There is NO season, Hendra virus outbreaks can and do occur at any time of the year, with the most recent one being detected on the 4th January in tropical north Queensland. 

The reality is that there are possibly months that present a lower risk of spillover events and transmission from bat to other species, for instance the wet season (January to March), any active virus excreted from the bats would likely be washed away or diluted sufficiently to reduce transmission risk.  Also these months being higher temperature, the virus does not survive long outside its host at higher temperature.  It is known that the virus can survive in fruit juice and urine for 4 days at 22oC, therefore making the transmission risk period much higher in cooler months.   To promote and encourage the mindset that there is a 'Hendra Season' is akin to saying summer is the drowning season, no need to think about water safety the rest of the year, a recipe for disaster.

The 16th April marked the second anniversary of launching this website to put Hendra in the national arena and expose Queensland's best kept secret.  This website was published because in 2010 I had little reason to believe that the Ombudsman's investigation would ever see the light of day.   Whilst the Hendra investigation was the largest conducted by the Queensland Ombudsman in some 20 years, there are many aspects of the investigation that leave a lot to be desired and if necessary will be pursued vigorously and exposed to ensure that there is never a repeat of past deadly disasters.
Biosecurity Queensland is managing two new Hendra virus cases – one near Rockhampton and the other near Ingham. This follows positive test results being received late last night.

Rockhampton case
A horse died on Saturday, 26 May 2012 on a property near Rockhampton with test results
confirming the horse was infected with Hendra virus. The horse has been buried on the property.
There are eight other horses on the property that are being monitored.
The case horse was recorded as being lethargic on Thursday 24 May. On Saturday 26 May the
horse was showing the following clinical signs:
* rapid respiratory rate
* fever
* nasal discharge
* blood from nose at death
A private veterinarian visited the horse on Saturday and collected samples for testing.

Ingham case
A horse died on a property near Ingham on Monday, 28 May 2012, with results confirming it was infected with Hendra virus. The horse has been buried on the property.  Five horses remain on this property and are being monitored.  The case horse was recorded as being dull on
Friday 25 May. On Sunday 27 May the horse was showing the following clinical signs:
* wobbly
* staggering
* hanging head
* fever
* circling
* dull demeanour
A private veterinarian visited the horse on Sunday 27 May and collected samples for testing.

There are reports of two outbreaks of hendra virus on horses in Queensland. The ABC understands the virus has been found in a horse near Rockhampton in central Queensland, and another at Innisfail in the north.Biosecurity Queensland are holding a media conference in Brisbane later this morning.

One horse died on Saturday, 26 May 2012 on a property near Rockhampton and another on Monday, 28 May 2012 on a property in Ingham. Test results confirmed both horses had Hendra virus. Remaining horses on both properties will be assessed today.

June 2011 to January 2012
19 Separate outbreaks detected
Unprecedented or Biosecurity Queensland exposed?

Of the 25 horses since June 2011 only one of these would have previously got past go for testing under the criteria in the vet guidelines.  Read more here
Don't be the next Hendra victim

Many people contracted me last year during the surge of detection, all with alarming stories that could have had tragic outcomes. 
Do not wait for your veterinarian to suggest Hendra virus before you start taking precautions to prevent infection.
A seemingly mild case of colic or any other illness could quickly turn into a nightmare.  Read more here

30th May 2012
2nd June 2012
     The 2011 cases
     15th June - Kerry (Qld)

     28th June - Logan (Qld)
     30th June - Wollongbar (NSW)
     1st July - Mt Alford (QLD)
     3rd July - Macksville (NSW)
     4th July - Park Ridge (QLD)

     11th July - Kuranda (QLD)
     13th July - Hervey Bay (QLD)
     14th July - Boondall (QLD)
     14th July - Lismore (NSW)

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer gets it wrong again.  Despite the department being slammed by the Ombudsman over Hendra, when announcing the two outbreaks last week which occurred 800klms and two days apart, Rick Symons stated "they're virtually the same time and we've never had that before".

WRONG!  Even if the Queensland CVO had no knowledge of the 8 separate outbreaks in NSW last year (which he did) there were several simultaneous outbreaks in Queensland separated by 100's of kilometers. 

     22nd July - Chinchilla (QLD)
     24th July - Mullumbimby (NSW)

     13th August - Mullumbimby (NSW)
     15th August - Ballina (NSW)
     16th August - South Ballina (NSW)

     23rd August - Currumbin (Gold Coast)
     27th August - North Ballina (NSW)

     9th October - Beachmere (QLD)
Further positive Hendra virus results in Rockhampton and Ingham

Two horses on the Rockhampton property where a horse died of Hendra virus last week have returned positive test results.  Biosecurity Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Rick Symons said the two horses would be re-tested to confirm the results before a decision was made about future action. There are eight horses in total on the property.

In addition, Biosecurity Queensland officers will be re-testing a dog on the Ingham property after it returned a weak positive test result.

“Further testing on the dog is needed as three out of the four samples taken from the animal were negative for Hendra virus,” Dr Symons said.

This potential case would only be the second natural infection in a dog to be recorded.

“Five horses and a number of other animals remain on the Ingham property - all other animals have returned negative results in the first round of sampling.   “Follow up testing for all of these animals will be conducted at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong.”
5th June 2012
Horse put down in new Hendra virus case near Mackay
A HORSE has tested positive to the Hendra virus on a property near Mackay.  Queensland Chief Vet Rick Symons said the manager of the property had contacted a vet after discovering the horse gravely ill on Tuesday. The horse was euthanased and a test result came back positive for Hendra last night.

"There are number of other animals including horses on the property and on adjoining properties,'' Dr Symons said. "Tracing is a priority to determine what contact the infected horse had with other animals on all properties.''

This is the fourth detected outbreak in 2012, properties at Ingham and near Rockhampton still remain in quarantine.
28th June 2012
3rd July 2012
Newman Government introduces PPE rebate program
In the fallout of the Bligh Government being humiliated by the scathing report from the Queensland Ombudsman, Campbell Newman pledged during the 2012 election campaign that vets would get financial assistance from the Government for personal protective equipment (PPE).  Biosecurity Queensland have implemented the PPE rebate program effective 1 July, veterinarians can apply for the start up rebate of up to $250 for PPE acquired since 24 March 2012.  Further 'replenishment rebate' available under the Rebate Program.  For further details and application forms visit

17th July 2012
A New Model for Hendra Virus Encephalitis in the Mouse

Mice were previously thought resistant to Hendra virus infection when trials to find a suitable lab model in 1995 failed to induce clinical infection when mice were exposed to HeV via parenteral route.  New study reports the successful infection of mice following intranasal exposure to HeV, with reliable induction of viral encephalitis in aged mice.
19th July 2012
The fifth detected outbreak for 2012 - New Hendra virus case in Rockhampton
Biosecurity Queensland is managing a new Hendra virus case near Rockhampton after a positive test result was received last night.  Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rick Symons said a foal had died from Hendra virus and two other horses and two dogs remain on the property. 
20th July 2012
Woman gets test dose in Hendra virus scare
The woman, who is in an infection control ward of the Princess Alexandra Hospital, is only the fourth person to receive the therapy, designed to prevent the virus.
The woman, who has asked for privacy, was with the foal as it was dying and was exposed to its bodily fluids but her partner and the treating vet have been assessed as having limited contact and are not considered at risk.  Read more>
27th July 2012
The Sixth confirmed outbreak for 2012 - New Hendra virus case in Cairns area

Biosecurity Queensland is quarantining a property in the Cairns area after a horse returned an initial positive test for Hendra virus infection.  Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Rick Symons said the horse was sick on Wednesday (25/7) when it was seen by a private veterinarian.

“The horse was sampled yesterday and results have come back today as positive,” he said.  “The horse died this morning. Tracing is being conducted to indentify other animals that may have come into contact with the deceased horse.  “There are known to be a number of other horses on the property.

Two horses euthanased on Rockhampton property

Biosecurity Queensland has euthanased two horses at a quarantined property near Rockhampton where a foal died of Hendra virus infection last week.   Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rick Symons said the horses suddenly became ill showing nervous signs and were put down at the owners’ request to prevent further suffering.  “The rapid onset of illness and the clinical signs all suggested Hendra virus infection, which was confirmed by laboratory test results late yesterday,” Dr Symons said.  “There are no more horses on the property, but there are still two dogs. They are being monitored daily and the property will remain under quarantine until late August.
New virus could hold key to Hendra

Australian scientists have discovered a new virus in bats that could help shed light on how Hendra and Nipah viruses cause disease and death in animals and humans. The new virus – named ‘Cedar’ after the Queensland location where it was discovered – is a close relative of the deadly Hendra and Nipah viruses. However, CSIRO’s initial studies have discovered one surprising key difference – the Cedar virus does not cause illness in several animal species normally susceptible to Hendra and Nipah.

Cedar Virus: A Novel Henipavirus Isolated from Australian Bats

Marsh GA, de Jong C, Barr JA, Tachedjian M, Smith C, et al. (2012) Cedar Virus: A Novel Henipavirus Isolated from Australian Bats. PLoS Pathogens 8(8): e1002836. Doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1002836  Download paper here

This vital discovery was detected as a result of sampling taken in 2009 at the Cedar Grove colony location as a direct result of authorities being shamed into implementing a previous recommendation made by Nigel Perkins in his 2006 Review of the Peachester case.  At the time of the Redlands outbreak in 2008, despite the devastation claiming multiple horses, the life of Dr Ben Cunneen and infecting vet nurse Natalie Beohm, Biosecurity Queensland had not even visited the colony at Cedar Grove where the first horse had been kept.  See Alarming Facts page for further details.

3rd August 2012
30th August 2012
The 7th confirmed outbreak for the year - Biosecurity Queensland has confirmed it is managing a new case of Hendra virus on a property between Cairns and Port Douglas after a horse died earlier this week.

Queensland Chief Biosecurity Officer Dr Jim Thompson said the property owner contacted a veterinarian on Monday after the horse became ill. The horse died before the vet arrived at the property.  Read more>
Hendra virus cases profiled by flying fox scientists

In a media release today, Dr Field said the Queensland Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases (QCEID) was analysing the data from properties in Queensland and northern New South Wales where the cluster of Hendra virus cases occurred in 2011 and 2012 to look for patterns.

Dr Field goes on to say, “We are also looking at pasture abundance and quality, but we’re not seeing a direct relationship with Hendra virus risk.  Even when pasture was poor, horses were generally in good condition because of supplementary feeding, so poor nutrition or hunger don’t appear to be risk factors."

Which contradicts research findings released just two months ago Poor pasture increases risk of Hendra virus infections
17th August 2012
30th August 2012
Council goes batty over hendra - THE State Government's plan to turf the permit system to cull or move on flying foxes divided Rockhampton councillors this week. Read more here>

The changes referred to in that article can be found in the Land Protection Legislation (Flying-fox Control)
Amendment Bill 2012

‘96C Control of flying-foxes
(1) This section applies if a landowner in a local government area reasonably believes that the  removal or destruction of a flying-fox is necessary to reduce the risk of disease or harm to a resident of the local government area or stock in the local government area.
(2) A landowner may do any of the following on the owner’s land—
(a) destroy a flying-fox;
(b) disturb or drive away a flying-fox;
(c) destroy or disturb a flying-fox roost.

Co-incidentally Hume Fields media release two days ago invites the public to have a say in flying fox survey
Take part in the online survey. The survey closes on 12 October 2012.

Comments made by Dr Fields in the media this week seem contradictory:-

Biosecurity Queensland researcher Dr Hume Field says scientists are interested in people's perceptions about flying foxes, and how much they understand about the role the bats play in spreading Hendra virus to horses.  "The study is not particularly directed at any issue or policy," Dr Field told AAP.

Really Dr Field?  There is a Bill before Parliament - Referred to Committee on 21/06/2012

Dr Field said many people have the misconception that flying foxes pose a direct risk of spreading Hendra virus to people, when in fact they can only transmit it to horses.

Any misconceptions that people have are a direct result of the deception of the former Government and an overwhelming desire to keep Hendra 'rare'.  I would encourage people to read the science and make your own conclusions.  The very limited transmission studies done back in the 90's absolutely proved that the virus could be transmitted between animals (see Be Alert Not Alarmed page).  Also see the lengths the Queensland Government have gone to prevent detection in just one case where we strongly believe Tania Benholz may have died from the virus as a result of either direct bat to human or possibly cat to human transmission. Absence of evidence (lack of testing) does NOT prove evidence of absence!
20th September 2012
A faster way to nab the Hendra virus
CSIRO scientists, in collaboration with researchers at the Bio21 Institute at the University of Melbourne, have developed a new method which could pave the way for a portable Hendra virus biosensor.

In a paper published in the journal of Advanced Healthcare Materials, CSIRO scientists detail the outcome of the study designed to find a faster, simpler way to detect the virus.  Read more>
The horse vaccine is nearing release
Pfizer Animal Health will soon be releasing Equivac HeV. The vaccine itself is the result of a collaboration between Pfizer and the Animal Biosecurity team at CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory, led by Dr Deb Middleton. The vaccine has been granted a 'Minor Use Permit' through the APVMA. The release date has not been given at this stage. The vaccine will be vet only (a condition of the Minor Use Permit). Vets must register and do an online accreditation to be eligible to purchase and use the vaccine. At this stage no pricing details have been released. I understand two doses will be required 3 weeks apart.   Veterinarians  preparing for the arrival of the Hendra vaccine Read more>
23rd October 2012
1st November 2012
Equivac HeV horse vaccine released in Brisbane
There are many news outlets covering the release of the vaccine today.  I am alarmed at some of the stories circulating, unfortunately some media will report things as fact because a professional has made a statement.  Likewise, most lay people will take as gospel what a professional says because they rightly assume they are the qualified person they turn to for advise.

This website and the Facebook page have large followings both professionals and horse owners as a trusted source of factual information, backed up with evidence of claims I make.  I am currently working on several updates to this website to further enlighten people, it is time the truth, the whole truth was put on public record.  Please bear with me, and check back in a few days. 

In the mean time for those who wish to understand exactly how the vaccine has progressed to a reality I recommend you visit the CSIRO website and read

Further reading for those who wish to decide for themselves if the vaccine is safe for your horses, the Minor Use Permit granted can be found here on the APVMA website.  A Minor Use Permit is NOT full registration, it allows drugs to go to market without a full data package.

3rd November 2012
Horse euthanased on property at Ingham confirmed as having Hendra virus
Test results on Friday night confirmed the latest case - the eighth Hendra virus incident in Queensland this year and the second in Ingham, north of Townsville.

Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rick Symons on Saturday said the horse was first noticed to be sick by its owner on Wednesday afternoon. Dr Symons said a private veterinarian treated the horse as a potential Hendra virus case due to the sudden onset of signs including neurological signs, lethargy and a lack of appetite.  By Thursday afternoon, the horse's condition had deteriorated and a decision was made to euthanase the horse.  Read more>
18th January 2013
Hendra virus detected in flying fox from parklands - South Australia

Hendra virus has been detected in a tissue sample taken from flying foxes that died in North Adelaide parklands during extreme temperatures earlier this month.

The cause of the deaths of about 100 flying foxes has been investigated and tests showed one sample was positive for the virus. Although still to be confirmed, it’s likely heat stress was the most likely cause of the bats’ deaths.

Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Rob Rahaley, said people should be alert but not alarmed by the discovery of the virus in local flying foxes.  Hendra virus can be transmitted to horses but some simple precautions can be taken by horse owners to minimise the risk.  Read more>
23rd January 2013
Biosecurity Queensland is managing a new Hendra virus case near Mackay after a positive test result was received late last night.

One horse has died on the property after becoming unwell early this week.

Biosecurity Queensland is in the process of quarantining the property. There are other horses on the property and we will be working to determine what contact the infected horse had with other animals.

Testing and monitoring will then be undertaken over the next month and movement restrictions are in place on the property.  This was the first case of Hendra virus in Queensland this year.

Second recorded outbreak for 2013 - Four people assessed after horse's death from Hendra virus in North Queensland

QUEENSLAND Health is assessing four people after the latest outbreak of the bat-borne Hendra virus in North Queensland.  It comes as a Cairns boy fights for his life in intensive care in a Brisbane hospital after he was bitten or scratched by a bat with the rare but deadly rabies-like virus Lyssavirus.

Biosecurity Queensland is managing the new Hendra virus case on the Atherton Tablelands after a positive test result on a horse death late last night.  Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rick Symons said one horse had died on the property after becoming unwell over the weekend.  “Biosecurity Queensland is in the process of quarantining the property,’’ Dr Symons said.  Read more...
22nd February 2013
Location Horse Deaths Horses Quarantined Properties
Exposed to
Infected Horses
Bat Colony Roosting at Property Bats Feeding or Occassionally Seen
8 Dondingalong 1          
7 Kempsey 1 1 1      
6 Macksville 1         Y
5 Gold Coast (Qld) 1 0 1 7 ? ?
4 Brisbane Valley (Qld) 1 ? 1 ? N ?
3 Macksville (NSW) 1 1 1 ? N ?
2 Townsville (Qld) 1 ? 1 ? N ?
1 Mackay (Qld) 1 ? 1 ? N ?
        Quarantine is lifted after 3 rounds of testing clearing remaining animals of infection
20th July 2013

Another Dog has been detected positive to Hendra virus and destroyed

HENDRA virus has been confirmed in a dog on an infected property near Macksville, on the NSW mid north coast.  “This follows the death of a horse from the virus on the same property on Thursday, 4 July 2013,” NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth said.

“Samples from the dog were sent to the Department of Primary Industries’ Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute for laboratory analysis and results last night confirmed the Hendra virus.  Read More

10th July 2013

Another horse has died from Hendra virus on the New South Wales mid-north coast.

The horse was on a property at Dondingalong near Kempsey when it became seriously ill on Monday and failed to respond to antibiotics.

The 13-year-old quarter horse died on Tuesday and tests have confirmed it was infected with Hendra virus.A third horse in NSW has died from Hendra west of Kempsey  read more

8th July 2013

A third horse in NSW has died from Hendra west of Kempsey

NSW Acting Chief Veterinary Officer, Dr Therese Wright, said a private veterinarian took a swab from the dead horse and sent the sample to DPI’s Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute for laboratory analysis – results confirmed the Hendra virus today.

“The horse was noticeably ill on Thursday and was showing neurological changes, including loss of balance and staggering,” Dr Wright said.  Read more here

6th July 2013

Hendra Outbreak Again in Macksville

The second hendra virus case in as many months has been confirmed on a separate property in Macksville.
The Department of Primary Industries says it’s a timely reminder for horse owners to get their animals vaccinated against the disease.

Horse put down after testing positive for Hendra, Gold Coast property quarantined

The 15-year-old male horse fell ill on Thursday and was euthanased after returning positive test results for Hendra virus on Friday.

There are no other horses on the property, which is in the Gold Coat Hinterland, but seven people are being assessed for exposure as are neighbouring horses and animals.

Queensland's Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rick Symons said the horse was not vaccinated and the property was being quarantined by Biosecurity Queensland.

8th June 2013

Third  confirmed outbreak of Hendra for 2013

A horse has died from the Hendra virus in northern NSW, the first in the state in nearly two years.

Tests on a second horse, five cats and dogs on the property north-west of Macksville have returned a negative result for the virus.

It's the third horse to die from the disease in the country this year, the other two in the Mackay and Tablelands regions of Queensland in January and February.

2nd June 2013

A second horse confirmed infected with Lyssa Virus

A second horse on the quarantined property has been confirmed as infected with ABLV. This horse became ill and died before ABLV was confirmed in another horse on the property.

The horse was noticed as off-color, dull and mildly ataxic (wobbly) on Thursday 2 May 2013. Over the next few days, the ataxia became worse and a private veterinarian attended to the horse. On Monday 6 May 2013, the horse was recumbent and having seizures and was euthanased by the veterinarian.

A remaining sample from the sick horse was tested for ABLV and returned positive results to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.

While this horse showed clinical signs of ABLV infection first, it is now the second horse to be confirmed as infected with ABLV.

17th May 2013

First ever diagnosed and confirmed positive case of ABLV (lyssa virus) in a horse

Biosecurity Queensland advised on 17 May 2013 that it has quarantined a property in the Southern Downs area after a horse tested positive to Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV). This is was the first known case of ABLV in a horse. A sample on a second horse on the property, which died on 6 May 2013, has also returned positive results for ABLV.

Clinical presentation
On 6 May 2013 a yearling horse was noticed as being off-colour with subtle dullness and ataxia. A private veterinarian assessed the horse through multiple visits. The horse’s condition deteriorated over the next few days and was showing ataxia, head pressing, dysphagia and hypermetria with a temperature of 39°C.

On 10 May 2013, the horse was in sternal recumbency and had difficulty standing. It was drinking but not eating and had a heart rate of 60 beats / minute. The veterinarian collected samples for Hendra virus testing which returned negative PCR results on blood and nasal, oral and rectal swabs.

On the 11 May 2013 the horse was having seizures and was euthanased by the veterinarian who also undertook a necropsy where spinal cord, brain, cerebrospinal fluid and blood were collected.

Histopathology showed severe subacute diffuse non-purulent encephalitis and myelitis. As this presentation can be seen with ABLV infection, Biosecurity Queensland pathologists ran tests for ABLV. ABLV PCR and Fluorescent Antibody Technique (FAT) results were positive. The PCR results were positive to the ABLV – Insectivorous assay and negative to the ABLV – Pteropid assay.

Prior to these events a paddock mate to the infected horse displayed similar clinical signs. Onset of signs in this yearling horse began on 2 May 2013 and deteriorated to the point that it was euthanased on 6 May 2013 after becoming recumbent and having seizures.

Work up on this horse included laboratory testing for Hendra virus, tetanus and flavivirus. Flavivirus infection was considered a differential diagnosis as a local surge of mosquitoes had been noted in the previous three to four weeks.

Hendra virus and flavivirus test results for this horse were negative. Further testing is being undertaken on remaining samples from this horse to determine its ABLV status.
Insectivorous PCR result on oral swabs from this horse was reported by the
Biosecurity Queensland laboratory and has been confirmed by Queensland Health. Samples from the horse have also been sent to AAHL.
1st August - Interview with
Dr Deborah Middleton
Veterinary Pathologist
Australian Animal Health Laboratory - Geelong

Myth Busting the misinformation circulating about Hendra virus and the vaccine, also explains what happened with the aborted 12 month challenge.

Play this 40 minutes interview
Presented by Casey Radio EQUINE SHOW
Gary Hartigan, Sharon Wyatt and Graham Jeffrey
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Location Horse Deaths Horses Quarantined Properties
Exposed to
Infected Horses
Bat Colony Roosting at Property Bats Feeding or Occassionally Seen
3 West of Murwillimbah (NSW) 1 5 1 ? N ?
2 Beenleigh (Qld) 1 2 1 ? N ?
1 Bundaberg (Qld) 1 1 2 2? N ?
        Quarantine is lifted after 3 rounds of testing clearing remaining animals of infection
19th June 2014

First case detected in NSW for the year
HEALTH authorities are monitoring five people who have come into contact with a horse infected with the deadly Hendra virus on the State’s north coast.  The gelding died suddenly on Thursday night after becoming ill with the NSW Department of Primary Industries confirming on Friday it was carrying the virus.
The property, located west of Murwillimbah, has been placed under quarantine while samples from five other horses on the acreage have been sent for testing.

The horse’s owner, vet, assistant and two other people are being monitored by NSW Health for any signs of infection.  It is the first confirmed case of Hendra virus in NSW since last year, when four horses and a dog on four separate properties died after becoming ill. Read more

3rd June 2014

New Hendra virus case confirmed in the Beenleigh area
Biosecurity Queensland is managing a new Hendra virus case in the Beenleigh area after a positive test result was received late last night.   Queensland Acting Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Allison Crook said one horse had been euthanased on the property after becoming unwell over the weekend.

“There are two other horses on the property. Tracing and risk assessments are being undertaken on any animals that may have had contact with the infected horse to work out if further testing needs to be done,” Dr Crook said.

“We will contact other properties that we believe may have had contact with the infected animal.  "The property has been quarantined which means restrictions apply to moving horses and horse materials on and off the property. The quarantine will be in place for at least one month.”  Queensland Health's Public Health experts are assessing the situation today to determine if any humans had contact with the infected horse, and stands ready to provide any assistance, counselling, information, testing or treatment that may be required.  Dr Crook said this was the second case of Hendra virus in Queensland this year.

"Hendra virus infection can occur throughout the year, so it’s important that horse owners take steps to protect themselves and their animals at all times,” she said.   "The affected horse had not been vaccinated. Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses. It is recommended that horse owners speak to their veterinarian about vaccinating their horses.  "If a horse becomes sick, owners should contact their veterinarian immediately. People in contact with horses need to remember to continue to practice good biosecurity and personal hygiene measures even if a horse is vaccinated against Hendra virus.”

19 March 2014
New Hendra virus case confirmed in Bundaberg area

Biosecurity Queensland is managing a new Hendra virus case in the Bundaberg area after positive test results were received late last night.  Queensland's Chief Veterinary Officer Dr Rick Symons said a private veterinarian had euthanased one horse on the property on Monday after it become unwell over the weekend, with test results last night confirming the animal had Hendra virus.

"There is one other horse on the property. Tracing and risk assessments are being undertaken on any animals that may have had contact with the infected horse to work out if further testing needs to be done,” Dr Symons said.  "The property has been quarantined which means restrictions apply to moving horses and horse materials on and off the property. The quarantine will be in place for at least one month.” 

Dr Symons said this case was the first Hendra virus incident in Queensland this year.  "The timing of this case highlights the need for horse owners to remain vigilant in taking steps to reduce the risk of infection as Hendra virus can occur year round,” he said.