Now’s the time to vaccinate horses against Hendra virus

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Hendra virus vaccination
Horses need their Hendra virus vaccination

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.

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,” president of AVA’s equine group Dr Ben Poole said. “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.”

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,” Dr Poole said.

“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 noted 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,” he said.

Based on a media release sourced from the AVA website.

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