Hendra: what you must know
HENDRA virus, also known as Equine morbillivirus, has claimed the lives of more than 70 horses and four people across Queensland and New South Wales.
The first known outbreak struck the Brisbane suburb of Hendra in 1994, killing a prominent horse trainer and 14 horses.
The number of hendra cases spiked in 2011 with 18 outbreaks, the first known case of a dog infected with hendra, and the first outbreak west of the Great Dividing Range.
Four of the seven people infected from 1994 to 2012 have died and one reportedly has serious, ongoing health problems.
A horse vaccine for hendra virus was developed and launched in November 2012.
Experts believe horses become infected through close contact by eating or sniffing at material contaminated with infected flying fox body fluids and excretions.
Hendra virus can cause a range of symptoms, and should be considered in any sick horse, particularly where signs progress quickly with rapid deterioration.
About 80 per cent of horses and 70 per cent of people infected with hendra virus die as a result.
Horse owners can prevent hendra infection by keeping feed and water containers under shelter or away from trees, keeping horses away from trees that attract flying foxes, disinfecting all gear exposed to body fluids before using with other horses, and isolating any sick horses.
There is no evidence of hendra virus spreading from flying foxes directly to humans, or between humans.
Hendra virus is not a highly contagious disease, with close contact with the virus required for infection to occur.
Anyone who suspects hendra virus case must report it to a veterinarian, Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline (24 hours) on 1800 675 888.
Visit daf.qld.gov.au for more information.