Horses in low-risk areas should still be vaccinated against Hendra virus, says a local vet.
Horses in low-risk areas should still be vaccinated against Hendra virus, says a local vet. Derek Barry

Hendra vaccine gets upgrade

VACCINE company Zoetis has announced the Hendra vaccination virus has been extended to 12 month boosters following administration of the first three doses.

The announcement came last week where previously horses were required to have six-monthly booster to maintain immunity against the deadly virus.

The disease was first detected in Australia in 1994 in a case in the Brisbane suburb of Hendra.

Other cases have been confirmed as far south as Kempsey and west in Chinchilla and in the Lockyer at Coolana.

More than 90 horses have died from the Hendra virus, with the majority of outbreaks occuring since 2011.

Australian Animal Health Labratory CSIRO lead researcher Deborah Middleton said when the vaccinated horses were challenged with a potent strain of the Hendra virus 12 months after receiving a six month booster, the horses were protected from infection.

“We are confident in the safety and efficacy of 12-month immunity for Equivac HeV and pleased this work has resulted in a positive outcome for horse owners in the equine industry,” Ms Middleton said.

Zoetis Australia and New Zealand general manager Lance Williams said Zoetis was extremely proud to be part of the solution to reduce the risk of the deadly virus.

“This highly anticipated announcement would not have been possible without the ongoing support from the CSIRO and our industry partners, as well as those involved in the initial development of this important vaccine,” Mr Williams said.

Currently there aren’t any proven treatments for Hendra virus disease in horses or humans.

Lockyer Valley horse rider Sharyn Ross said the 12-month vaccine would hopefully encourage more owners to use the vaccination.

“I think there’s been a very big divide around people who vaccinate and people who don’t and I think a lot of the concern has been around over vaccinating,” she said.

Ms Ross said she chose to vaccinate for the safety of her family and animals.

“I’d choose to vaccinate because we have bats flying over our place regularly and they feed on trees in neighbouring properties,” she said.


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