I was disturbed to hear a recent interview on the ABC Country Hour with the Vice President of the Australian Veterinary Association, Mr Barry Smyth (Media article here and full interview Audio here), stating that this is a concern for veterinarians and horse owners in Queensland (extract of interview here). This apparent ignorance to the potential for Hendra virus to appear anywhere, any time, only strengthened my resolve to raise awareness via this website.
If you live anywhere in the red shaded area of this map, own, live or work with horses (cats, dogs, guinea pigs or pigs) then you should read on.
Adapted from Hall & Richards (2000)
Flying foxes are known to carry the Hendra virus and although they have not yet found the exact mechanism of how it transfers from the bats to horses (or other animals), they are believed to be the only natural 'host' for the virus.
The four species of flying foxes found throughout Australia in these areas are all known to carry the Hendra Virus. The fact that there has only been one 'recorded' outbreak outside of Queensland (in northern NSW) does not mean they are not happening, merely that they are not being detected, or recorded. I predict that as soon as there is a case detected and 'recorded' further south, then awareness in other states will be raised and we are likely to see more and more cases 'recorded'.
For Queensland residents you can find a map of flying fox camps in Queensland on the Department of Environment and Resource Management website at http://www.derm.qld.gov.au/.
Residents in other states should visit their respective state body website or contact DEEM if you wish to view maps of colony locations.
Surveys are carried out to update the information, people need to remember that many colonies move regularly and can travel up to 50klms per night to forage for food.
It is vitally important to follow good biosecurity and hygiene practices even if you do not know of flying fox colonies in the area.
THE NSW Farmers’ Association is calling for urgent assistance from the State Government to control the spread of Flying Foxes inland. Flying Foxes have long been an issue for orchardists in the Sydney Basin, but in the last month the pests have moved west in large numbers. Go back to Queensland 05 Apr 10 @ 06:51pm by JOHN MORCOMBE
PARTS of Avalon are going batty over a colony of flying foxes that live in a small reserve off Therry St.
There are moves to possibly have the influx of flying foxes in central western New South Wales declared an emergency situation. "We're hearing reports from Bathurst that there's hundreds of thousands of [them] there and as far out as Dubbo, so one is a little bit concerned ... are they endangered or are they not endangered?"
The number of fruit bats, or grey-headed flying foxes, in Victoria has risen to an unprecedented 100,000 in recent weeks following a mass exodus of the species from Queensland due to heavy rains washing out their food source.
Flooding in Queensland has caused a huge increase in the number of flying foxes at Yarra Bend, in Melbourne.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment (DSE) estimates the bat population has almost doubled to 52,000. Bat invasion threat to crops and health 16 Mar, 2010 08:33 AM Bendigo Advertiser
A COLONY of up to 400 fruit bats has invaded Bendigo, posing a health risk to residents and a threat to crops.
The rare visitors were first seen by Bendigo field naturalist John Lindner but have since been seen all over town.
Lila Walker looks across the river to the trees that are home to the Maclean bat colony.
HORSE lovers near the Maclean flying fox colony fear a hendra virus outbreak from bat droppings as tens of thousands of bats fly over their properties every night.
Lila Walker, who adjists her horse on a property immediately across the river from the controversial colony, said the prospect of hendra virus was a very real fear and she had already cleaned out and disinfected her horse’s drinking trough after she suspected it contained bat stool.
THEY have urinated and defecated on people, spoiled residents' tank water supplies and stripped trees in a park that was once Singleton's "jewel in the crown".
Now the grey-headed flying foxes, or the bats of Burdekin Park, have forced residents to remove fruit trees from their backyards.
Note: Map updated 17th April 2010 after a reader advised that Flying Foxes are in fact in the south east corner of South Australia. Available data from Department for Environment and Heritage SA - Fact Sheet confirms this migration of Grey Headed Flying Foxes.