Abstracts: Hendra virus and horse owners – risk perception and management

Hendra virus is a highly pathogenic novel paramyxovirus causing sporadic fatal infection in horses and humans in Australia. Species of fruit-bats (genus Pteropus), commonly known as flying-foxes, are the natural host of the virus. We undertook a survey of horse owners in the states of Queensland and New South Wales, Australia to assess the level of adoption . . . → Read More: Abstracts: Hendra virus and horse owners – risk perception and management

Veterinarians urged to consider ABLV in horses with neurological signs

Baby bat suckes from bottle3The detection of Australian bat lyssavirus (ABLV) in two horses on a Queensland property is a concern for veterinarians and horse owners alike, according to the Australian Veterinary Association.

Biosecurity Queensland quarantined a property in the Southern Downs last month after a horse tested positive for ABLV – the first known case of ABLV in this species.

According to a statement by NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth, the yearling was initially off-colour with subtle signs of dullness and ataxia. Its condition deteriorated over a period of days, demonstrating marked ataxia, head-pressing, dysphagia, hypermetria and a rectal temperature of 39°C. Within four days the horse struggled to stand. The animal drank but did not eat, and had a heart rate of 60 beats per minute. Hendra virus testing returned negative.

Five days after initial presentation the horse developed seizures and was euthanased by the veterinarian, who performed a necropsy. Histopathology of the brain revealed severe diffuse non-purulent encephalitis and myelitis. Because this finding can be seen with ABLV, testing was undertaken. Other differentials included Hendra virus, tetanus and flavivirus (thought to be possible due to a local surge of mosquitos in the preceding month). The animal tested positive for ABLV. Continue reading Veterinarians urged to consider ABLV in horses with neurological signs

Owner rejects horse deaths finding 

The owner of 22 horses which died on a southeast Queensland property has questioned a finding that scrub ticks or botulism probably caused the deaths.

Steve Hogno said tests of horse-hair samples sent to a US laboratory had turned up high levels of heavy metals including manganese and zinc, among others.

“They’re saying they’ve got some of the highest levels of heavy metals they’ve even seen,” Hogno told AAP. “Now we’ve got to try and find out where they’ve come from.”

The US laboratory had indicated that ingestion of a toxic weed or outside intervention could have caused the high metal levels, Hogno said, and that he did not know why Biosecurity Queensland had reached such a drastically different conclusion. Continue reading Owner rejects horse deaths finding 

Bligh says govt acted before Hendra report

Anna Bligh.

Anna Bligh.

The Queensland Government had made significant changes to the way it handled Hendra virus outbreaks well before the ombudsman released a critical report, Premier Anna Bligh said.

Ombudsman Phil Clarke’s report highlighted inadequate communication between veterinarians and horse owners.

Clarke said systemic failures had hampered the Labor government’s response to six Hendra outbreaks between June 2006 and October 2009.

The report, released early this month, identified outdated policies and procedures, and overlapping legislation that led to inconsistent quarantine practices.

Training and resources for government agency staff, contractors and property owners were lacking.

Records of decisions made were also inadequate and there was a poor framework for compensation payments

Bligh said the report analysed how historic cases were handled, and ignored how government agencies had responded to the most recent incidents.

“They date back several years and there’s been a very significant shift in the way the matter’s being dealt with now,” she said.

“Nevertheless, when things like this happen you learn from it.”

Clarke found some Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries staff had imposed quarantines contrary to law, and were uncertain about what personal protective equipment to use and how to employ it.

The report dealt with 18 horses which died or were euthanased, two vets who died from Hendra, and a third vet who contracted the virus but recovered. Continue reading Bligh says govt acted before Hendra report