Horse owners urged to vaccinate after season's first Hendra

HORSE owners are being urged to give their animals Hendra virus booster shots following the first confirmed case for the year in Bundaberg.

Biosecurity Queensland euthanased one horse on a property this week after it became sick over the weekend.

Positive tests confirmed the animal had the deadly virus.

More than 80,000 horses have been vaccinated in Australia since the vaccine became available in 2012, but equine experts have raised concerns follow-up booster shots are not being administered.

"Hendra is a devastating virus which can strike any time and in any place visited by flying foxes - effectively a huge expanse of Australia," Equine Veterinarians Australia president Dr Frank Condon said.

"Unfortunately a number of horse owners haven't followed up with the critical six month Equivac HeV booster, potentially leaving horses without adequate immunity against this deadly virus.

"This is concerning as we have experienced a number of sudden outbreaks over the last few years and while it's heartening to see so many horses already vaccinated, they could be left at risk without the follow-up booster."

Dr Condon urged horse owners to contact their regular vet for the booster shots.

The Bundaberg property on which the infected horse was euthanased has been quarantined and transport restrictions put in place by order of Biosecurity Queensland.

"The quarantine will be in place for at least one month," Biosecurity Queensland chief veterinary officer Dr Rick Symons said.

Dr Symons urged horse owners and vets to download the latest information on Hendra from www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au or contact 13 25 23.



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