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7 People At Risk As Hendra Virus Kills Qld Horse

Friday, 21st May 2010

Up to 7 Queenslanders “are waiting to find out if they have the potentially fatal Hendra virus” reported The Courier-Mail. The “dreaded bat-to-horse-to-human disease has returned to haunt southeast Queensland's equine industry after tests yesterday confirmed a horse put down on Monday at Tewantin (west of Noosa) had the virus”. Cooroy veterinarian Ben Poole (who had a staff member treat the horse) explained: “It was twitching, it was circling, it was wobbly.” The mother & daughter owners (believed to have kept the horse as a pet) “are 2 of up to 7 people waiting to hear if they have the virus”. Queensland Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin warned residents on surrounding properties would be contacted about the outbreak & emphasised: “We are taking the situation very seriously & are working closely with the property owners & the vet involved & will be contacting neighbours as soon as possible.” Biosecurity Queensland chief biosecurity officer Ron Glanville said the veterinarian who treated the horse “had been wearing full protective clothing, including a mask & gloves” & noted: “We take any case very seriously. This is a disease that is not highly infectious, but if you do get it, is something very serious. It certainly has higher than a 50% mortality rate in any horse or person who gets it.” Results of preliminary blood tests on people who came in contact with the sick horse are expected this morning; however Dr Christine Selvey, from Queensland Health Communicable Diseases Branch, said follow-up tests would be done in 3 weeks. The property where the horse fell sick “is in an area where fruit bats are present”.  Four Queenslanders have died over the past 16 years after contracting the virus from horses “out of a total of 7 cases of the virus in humans”; the most recent outbreak near Rockhampton last August caused the death of veterinary surgeon Alister Rodgers.

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