Site Published:  16th April 2010
Last updated:   18th April 2010
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Be Alert not Alarmed!!
Our intention in publishing this website is to raise awareness, inform people of the very real dangers of this deadly disease.    During the course of trying to 'work with' Biosecurity Queensland, we encouraged them to move away from continually describing this virus as 'rare', which breeds complacency.    This fell on deaf ears, and not less than 7 months later we saw the next deadly outbreak claim the life of another veterinarian. Hendra virus outbreaks are sporadic, and all 'known and recorded' human infections have occurred from handling sick (or dead) horses prior to a diagnosis being confirmed.

After the first detected outbreak of Hendra virus at Peachester in June 2006, the veterinarian that diagnosed a live case of Hendra, persisted until a Parliamentary Review was ordered, published a quarterly newsletter to her clients.  Paws and Claws - Summer 06   If you read Page 2, you will see that Dr Day was trying to raise awareness whilst trying to quell concerns.

Shortly after that newsletter was published, the Parliamentary Review, commissioned by the Department to investigate their own actions, found no fault in their actions.  The Director General (at the time) Mr Jim Varghese promptly wrote to Dr Day, on the 14th December 2006 in that letter

Mr Varghese, your advisors were perhaps the unqualified ones, it was well documented 10 years prior to this Peachester case, that 'in contact cats' could contract the virus from infected cats and that horses could also be infected by cats.  Perhaps the QDPI should have read the transmission studies

Unnecessary anxiety in the public??  Perhaps some of the anxiety in the public at the time was fuelled by the mysterious death of Tania Benholz (to date unresolved death) on an adjacent property, along with the death of her cat that displayed bizarre symptoms?   See further details on
History Repeats page.

Perhaps it would have been more appropriate to publicly acknowledge the first conclusion in Mr Perkins Review, page 6...

The Queensland Government appears to have been determined to keep people as uninformed about this deadly virus as they possibly can.  [Also see
Case Presentation page]  They are the only avenue for vets to get suspect cases tested and they control which cases do or don't get thoroughly investigated.   The only way for vets and owners to influence the authorities’ decision to take appropriate action is to advise of 'concern of human exposure' and / or get vocal in the media...  very vocal in the media!!

One of the scientists that has done a lot of research work on this deadly virus, stated in the media
Susceptibility of cats to equine morbillivirus (Aust Vet J. 1996 Aug; 74(2):132-4)

CONCLUSION: This is the first demonstration that animals can be infected with EMV by non-parenteral means, that the virus can transmit naturally between animals and confirms other reports of the similarity of EMV disease in horses and cats.

Transmission studies of Hendra virus (equine morbillivirus)
in fruit bats, horses and cats
Aust Vet J. 1998 Dec;76(12):813-8.

CONCLUSIONS: Grey-headed fruit bats seroconvert and develop subclinical disease when inoculated with HeV. Horses can be infected by oronasal routes and can excrete HeV in urine and saliva. It is possible to transmit HeV from cats to horses. Transmission from P poliocephalus to horses could not be proven and neither could transmission from horses to horses or horses to cats. Under the experimental conditions of the study the virus is not highly contagious.
CATS and dogs can carry the deadly bat-borne Hendra virus, a CSIRO scientist has revealed.

Bruce Mungall, a research scientist at the CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong, said cats were "very susceptible" to the virus that killed Brisbane vet Ben Cunneen last week.

"They're what we would call a dead-end host because if a cat becomes infected, there's a good chance it would die," he said yesterday.

"Dogs are a possibility as well. Nothing can be ruled in or out at this stage."

Dr Mungall said the Hendra virus was "quite tough" and could survive for days in liquid such as urine. "One of the things (horse owners) need to be doing is disinfecting everything around the horses, including all surfaces where liquid may settle," he said.

The Australian - Natasha Bita - August 26, 2008 12:00AM
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