Biosecurity officer with a horse at the Redlands Veterinary Clinic near Brisbane after a previous Hendra virus scare.
Biosecurity officer with a horse at the Redlands Veterinary Clinic near Brisbane after a previous Hendra virus scare.

Second horse tested for virus

HEALTH officials hope to have the results later this week of tests carried out on a second horse from the Wollongbar property where a horse was put down on Thursday after it was confirmed it was carrying the Hendra virus.

Nine people who are believed to have been in contact with the two horses are being monitored for ill health, but so far they are not believed to have shown any symptoms of the potentially lethal bat-borne illness.

A Primary Industry’s spokesman said veterinarians visited the Wollongbar property on the weekend to ensure no other animals were in the vicinity of fruit trees that attract the Hendra-virus carrying fruit bats.

“The (second) horse is showing no signs of being ill, it’s just precautionary testing,” he said.

The Wollongbar outbreak came between two outbreaks in Queensland.

After a horse was put down near Beaudesert last weekend, Biosecurity Queensland confirmed on Saturday a new outbreak at Mount Alford, south of Brisbane where two horses were euthanized after showing signs of the Hendra virus.

Authorities said one of the Mount Alford horses was initially diagnosed with equine colic and died on June 20.

However, it now believes the horse may also have died from Hendra and samples taken by the vet at the time were being tested on Saturday.

So far six people exposed to the virus at Mount Alford have tested negative but they won’t be in the clear until two more blood samples taken over six weeks also test negative.

Eight horses on the Mount Alford property will also be tested this week.

The area is under quarantine and horses are prevented from being moved.

In the Beaudesert area, Biosecurity Queensland’s chief veterinary officer Dr Simons said on the weekend there were now concerns for at least one more person and between two and five horses.

The virus shot to prominence in the 1994 when horse trainer Vic Rail died after contracting the disease from a horse he was caring in the Brisbane suburb of Hendra.

But researchers are still no closer to a cure for the virus, which spreads from flying foxes to horses and, in a rare number of casers, their handers.

The exact route of infection is not known, but it is thought horses contract Hendra by eating food contaminated with urine, saliva or birth matter from flying foxes carrying the virus.