Horse own­ers blamed for not vac­ci­nat­ing against Hen­dra

Vets at risk of virus

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - HARRY CLARKE

VETS who re­sponded to the death of a horse from Hen­dra virus on the Ather­ton Table­land say prac­ti­tion­ers are be­ing en­dan­gered by own­ers fail­ing to have their an­i­mals vac­ci­nated.

The first case of Hen­dra virus in Queens­land for the year, which saw the death of a horse on a prop­erty at Kairi last week, has re­newed con- cerns that vets are be­ing un­nec­es­sar­ily ex­posed.

Dr Frank Con­don from the Table­lands Vet­eri­nary Ser­vice said while all pre­cau­tions were taken last week and the own­ers of the horse “did noth­ing wrong”, there was a gen­eral com­pla­cency among some own­ers which was putting hu­man lives at risk.

“We’re con­cerned with ev­ery horse we go to be­cause ef­fec­tively any sick horse can have Hen­dra virus,” he said. “What wor­ries me is that a young vet, as hap­pened last week, goes out at the start of their ca­reer and gets ex­posed to Hen­dra virus.”

The vet wore pro­tec­tive gear when called to test a sick horse on a farm at Kairi last Wed­nes­day morn­ing.

The horse was then eu­thanised by its own­ers, who were in­formed by Biose­cu­rity Queens­land the fol­low­ing night that the an­i­mal had con­tracted Hen­dra virus.

It is un­der­stood the horse was one of three re­tired stock­horses on the prop­erty that were not vac­ci­nated, while there were another six vac­ci­nated work­ing horses.

The prop­erty is now un­der quar­an­tine.

“I guess the own­ers made a de­ci­sion for rea­sons of prac­ti­cal­ity at the time and they would prob­a­bly change that de­ci­sion now,” Dr Con­don said.

But Dr Con­don said in many cases, vets were be­ing ac­cused of en­cour­ag­ing own­ers to give their horses vac­ci­na­tions – which cost about $ 100 – for rev­enue pur­poses.

“Doc­tors and vets make very lit­tle money out of vac­ci­na­tions,” he said

Hen­dra virus has in­fected seven peo­ple and killed four since 1994.

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