No Hendra risk in Calliope

HORSE owners should not be alarmed about a case of Hendra virus on the Sunshine Coast, despite hundreds of horses expected to gather at Calliope this weekend, where a fruit bat colony has been identified.

Calliope Polo Cross Club president Leo Neil-Ballantine said organisers were not concerned about the Hendra virus.

He said veterinarians would be playing on the weekend.

“Every club’s got a horse welfare officer, there are zone horse welfare officers and a state horse welfare officer.”

A horse has been put down at Tewantin on the Sunshine Coast last week after falling ill on May 17.

Biosecurity Queensland scientists have set up a research project using special cameras to film horses, bats and other wildlife at night to better understand how Hendra virus was passed to horses.

Biosecurity Queensland emerging diseases research group leader Dr Hume Field said all the current evidence indicated Hendra virus was transmitted directly from bats to horses.

This was the first time this kind of disease surveillance, which will take 12 months, has been undertaken in Australia as scientists had only been aware of Hendra virus since 1994.

Gladstone bat expert Henry Grzegorski said there were about 3000 to 4000 fruit bats at Boyne Island and a couple of hundred at Calliope.

He said figures showed there were 200,000 horses in Queensland, with flying foxes all over the state.

“If it was a pandemic or an epidemic, there would be more horses coming down with the virus,” Mr Grzegorski said.

He said the virus did not survive long outside animals’ bodies and each case over the recent years had been different strands.



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