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CSIRO Discovers Hendra's "Cousin"
A new virus discovered in Queensland could help researchers understand how to manage and control the deadly Hendra and Nipah viruses. Named Cedar, after the location where it was discovered, this virus is a close cousin to Hendra but appears to be safe for humans and other mammals. "The significance of discovering a new henipavirus that doesn't cause disease is that it may help us narrow down what it is about the genetic makeup of viruses like Hendra and Nipah that does cause disease and death," research scientist Mr Gary Crameri said. "The more that we can learn about bat-borne viruses, the better chance we have of developing anti-virals and vaccines to help protect human health, Australia's livestock industry and our export trade from the threat of current and emerging animal diseases. Over 70 per cent of people and animals infected with Hendra and Nipah viruses die. This ranks henipaviruses amongst the deadliest viruses in existence, yet little is known about just how such viruses actually cause disease or death." The CSIRO discovered Cedar as part of ongoing research that includes the development of a horse vaccine against Hendra virus. Bats are an essential part of Australia's ecosystem working as pollinators, insect regulators and seed dispersers.