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

Female recovers, but fatal white rhino disease remains a mystery

A female rhinoceros exhibiting symptoms of a condition which claimed the lives of four of her conspecifics appears to have overcome her illness, despite exhaustive testing failing to identify the aetiological agent.

The mystery illness claimed the lives of four adult White Rhinoceros at Taronga Western Plains Zoo within a period of weeks in March, sparking an international investigation. Affected rhinos exhibited a range of signs, particularly neurological signs including stumbling and ataxia prior to their deaths.

The female also exhibited these signs, but survived the illness along with two other males which remain unaffected. Last month the zoo reported that the female White Rhino had improved and was assessed to have a good prognosis following intensive monitoring and supportive care after exhibiting neurological signs. All other affected animals had died despite intervention. The two remaining males, neither of whom have exhibited symptoms, remain healthy. No other animals at the zoo – including the black rhinoceros – have experienced the illness.

The intensive, eight-week-long investigation, lead by the Zoo, involved collaboration with Rhinoceros specialists in Africa and North America, Government virologists and veterinary services as well as multiple pathology laboratories.

A Working Group, consisting of the State’s most experienced veterinarians and pathologists including the Department of Primary Industries Chief Veterinary Officer was established to assist with the investigation. Continue reading Female recovers, but fatal white rhino disease remains a mystery

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