With the arrival of winter, the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) is reminding horse owners of the importance of vaccination to help prevent the deadly Hendra virus in their horses.
President of AVA’s equine group, Dr Ben Poole, said that although the Hendra virus can strike at any time, traditionally there are more cases seen during the cooler months.
“Hendra Virus is a deadly virus. For the benefit of horses and their owners, it is essential that horses located in, around or travelling to high-risk Hendra areas along the east coast, are vaccinated against Hendra virus,” he said.
The virus was identified in 1994. Since then, there have been over 60 known Hendra incidents in Queensland and New South Wales, resulting in the deaths of 102 horses.
“Every one of these horses that has died because of Hendra represents one more compelling reason for horse owners to vaccinate their horses.
“The risk this disease poses to human health is also very real with seven confirmed cases in people leading to four deaths. So, it’s important that the horse community remains vigilant in protecting both horses and people from Hendra,” he said.
Dr Poole said that the vaccine, introduced in 2012, remains the most effective way to manage the Hendra virus and is fully registered with the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority.
“Vaccination of horses provides a public health and workplace health and safety benefit by reducing the risk of Hendra virus transmission to humans and other susceptible animals and helps to ensure high standards of animal health and welfare.”
Horse owners should contact their local veterinarian for more information about Hendra virus vaccination which is a very important part of their horse health and welfare strategy.