Local vets are reminding horse owners, of increased risk of Hendra Virus on the North Coast this winter.
Local vets are reminding horse owners, of increased risk of Hendra Virus on the North Coast this winter.

How to protect you and your horse from Hendra virus

AFTER a case of Hendra virus was recently confirmed in Murwillumbah, vets are urging horse owners to be aware this winter could provide high-risk conditions for the infection.

The virus was confirmed in an unvaccinated horse on a property south of Murwillumbah in May, and the animal was euthanised shortly after.

BatOneHealth (batonehealth.org) is a global team of experts who have been studying the

complex interactions between climate, land use, flying fox ecology, Hendra virus dynamics

and the concurrent risk to horses and humans.

North Coast Local Land Services staff have worked with and supported this group since its inception.

This group recently advised this winter represented a period of heightened risk for Hendra virus spillover into horse populations.

>>> Horse euthanised after contracting Hendra virus

NCLLS district veterinarian Phil Kemsley said experts couldn't ignore the risks following the recent case on the North Coast.

"June to October tends to be a higher risk for Hendra infection in horses," he said.

"This could be because in winter feed sources are limited and flying foxes may risk feeding on lower branches, placing them in closer to horses."

Hendra virus is a virus carried by flying foxes (who are unaffected by the virus) and can be

deadly to both humans and horses.

It is transmitted from flying fox to horse, via the ingestion by the horse of flying fox bodily fluids most likely dropped from overhead trees contaminating pasture, feed and water.

The infection has occasionally been passed onto people who have been in close contact with an infected horse.

To protect both horses and human, Mr Kemsley recommended reducing the risk at the flying fox-horse interface.

"Horse owners should provide shelter or stables for horses at night, keep feed and water containers covered and not placed under trees," he said.

"However, vaccination of horses is the single most effective means to empower horse owners to protect both their horses and themselves against Hendra virus infection."

For more info visit: NSW DPI https://www.dpi.nsw.gov.au/animals-and-livestock/horses/health-and-disease/hendra-virus