Site Published:  16th April 2010
Last updated:   18th April 2010
Bookmark and Share
September 2011 - News
Page added:   18th April 2010
Updated:   4th November 2011
Back to top
Update - 13th September 2011
Greed and hunger give Hendra researchers an edge

A veterinarian epidemiologist, Hume Field, says that over the past 10 years, there have typically been one or two, sometimes no, spillover events a year.

''This year has been remarkable in the number of spillover events,'' says Dr Field, the principal scientist at Biosecurity Queensland's centre for emerging infectious diseases.

Even more unusual is the fact that most infected properties had multiple horses, but often only one animal will get exposed to the disease.   Read more:

Given only 10 loggers have been glued onto 10 flying foxes for a week, it would seem somewhat premature to announce any form of opinion based on such limited findings.  Herd pecking order of all grazing animals should not be seen as startling new research findings, surely?  I was left wondering what had made that article news worthy, then in today's paper perhaps this could answer that question.

         "THE Bligh Government has been accused of using public servants to serve their own political
         purposes by demanding they find positive news in Labor electorates.

          A directive was last week issued by Treasurer Andrew Fraser's office to staff within the Department
          of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation."
Update - 1st September 2011
Hendra fear behind bat attacks
Animal welfare groups suspect that fear of the potentially deadly Hendra virus is behind a recent spate of cruel attacks on flying foxes.

Brisbane and Gold Coast wildlife rescue services say in recent months they have noticed an increase in killed or maimed bats.

Australian Bat Clinic director Trish Wimberley says that in one case a pregnant bat was either shot or stabbed and left to die slowly.   Read more>
Update - 15th September 2011
Hendra virus information for businesses that dispose of horse carcasses
Workplace Health and Safey Queensland published information sheet this week.  Download Here

Horses group warns against hendra complacency
By Mitch Grayson Thursday, 15/09/2011
This year alone there have been 17 outbreaks in Queensland and NSW. That's more than all previous outbreaks combined.  Council president Debbie Dekker says she's worried people will become complacent since the slowdown in cases and media coverage.  Read more>
Are Government agencies taking the problem seriously?
After the discovery of the first detected Hendra positive dog, crisis meetings with Queensland and NSW officials sparked an immediate boost in research funding to accelerate the research work.  On 27th July an additional $6 million promised, coming from the Queensland and NSW Governments.   Less than 2 months later NSW are announcing budget cuts to Biosecurity, slashing 11 scientists including one of their Hendra experts at the Forest Science Centre in West Pennant Hills.
Update - 23rd September 2011
Update - 29th September 2011
Identifying Hendra Virus Diversity in Pteropid Bats
Hendra virus (HeV) causes a zoonotic disease with high mortality that is transmitted to humans from bats of the genus Pteropus (flying foxes) via an intermediary equine host. Factors promoting spillover from bats to horses are uncertain at this time, but plausibly encompass host and/or agent and/or environmental factors. There is a lack of HeV sequence information derived from the natural bat host, as previously sequences have only been obtained from horses or humans following spillover events. In order to obtain an insight into possible variants of HeV circulating in flying foxes, collection of urine was undertaken in multiple flying fox roosts in Queensland, Australia. HeV was found to be geographically widespread in flying foxes with a number of HeV variants circulating at the one time at multiple locations, while at times the same variant was found circulating at disparate locations. Sequence diversity within variants allowed differentiation on the basis of nucleotide changes, and hypervariable regions in the genome were identified that could be used to differentiate circulating variants. Further, during the study, HeV was isolated from the urine of flying foxes on four occasions from three different locations. The data indicates that spillover events do not correlate with particular HeV isolates, suggesting that host and/or environmental factors are the primary determinants of bat-horse spillover. Thus future spillover events are likely to occur, and there is an on-going need for effective risk management strategies for both human and animal health.

Citation: Smith I, Broos A, de Jong C, Zeddeman A, Smith C, et al. (2011) Identifying Hendra Virus Diversity in Pteropid Bats. PLoS ONE 6(9): e25275. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0025275
Editor: Leo L. M. Poon, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong                       Read paper online or download PDF

Qld biosecurity still flawed: auditor
Of the 53 total recommendations, the auditor-general was pleased to note at least half had been fully implemented and work had begun on all but one. 
However, it was concerning that some of the most critical recommendations were among those that hadn't been finalised.
In a 2008 report, the auditor-general found Biosecurity Queensland's ability to respond to an elevated number of outbreaks was compromised because of ineffective planning. Read more>                                     

Read Auditor General's report>
Outcomes of an audit of Hendra virus risk management in the veterinary industry

The National Occupational Health and Safety Strategy 200212 targets eight categories of occupational diseases, including work related infectious and parasitic diseases. To support this strategy, Workplace Health and Safety Queensland conducted an audit of Hendra virus risk management in the Queensland veterinary profession.

Hendra virus is an emerging occupational hazard for those who work with horses. The natural source of Hendra virus in nature is flying foxes. 

Spill over of infection from flying foxes to horses occurs occasionally and exposes those who have close contact with infected horses, especially veterinarians and veterinary assistants, to the risk of serious illness and death.    
Read more>
Update - 30th September 2011