The State Government has said hendra vaccinations will not be mandatory in Qld.
The State Government has said hendra vaccinations will not be mandatory in Qld. Contributed

Hendra vaccine will not be mandatory: Qld Govt

A RECENT decision by the State Government to deem hendra virus vaccinations for horses as not mandatory has prompted concerns in both veterinary and equestrian circles.

Opinion is divided on the vaccine, which is highly recommended by both the Department of Agriculture and the Australian Veterinary Association as the best way to stave off the virus - which has a high mortality rate for infected horses and humans.

However, some sections of the equestrian and racing industries hold concerns over the vaccine, particularly on the effects it could have on the physiology of the animals and the costs of the vaccination itself.

Gympie veterinarian Dr Justin Schooth said that while good changes had been made when dealing with hendra, practices would still largely remain the same.

"There's been a misconception this announcement is a new thing, the vaccine has never been mandatory,” he said.

"From the perspective of a vet, we'd certainly like to see changes to the legislation, but it's not looking likely.

"It's really business as usual for the way cases are handled.”

A major point of concern for the Australian Veterinary Association is equestrian events, which can bring a number of horses from a wide geographical area together, increasing the risk of exposure.

"Vaccination is the only way to ensure high standards of horse health and welfare while also adequately protecting veterinarians,” a AVA spokesman said.

Since its discovery in 1994, the hendra virus has been the cause of death for four people, including Brisbane vet Dr Ben Cuneen, who died from hendra in 2008.