Horse owners blamed for not vaccinating against Hendra
Vets at risk of virus
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.