The discovery of a new bat virus may help unlock the secrets on how the Hendra virus causes disease and death in animals and humans.
The discovery of a new bat virus may help unlock the secrets on how the Hendra virus causes disease and death in animals and humans. Rob Wright

Vet to face court over alleged hendra risk

BUNDABERG senior veterinarian Luke Annetts is one of the first vets in Queensland to be prosecuted under the Workplace Health and Safety Act 2011.

Dr Annetts will face court following a complaint from Maroochydore man David Fletcher involving potential exposure to the hendra virus at a property in South Kolan last year.

Dr Annetts is one of three Queensland vets facing court in landmark cases under the act; the others are Matthew Morahan from Brisbane and Janine Dwyer from the Gold Coast.

A spokesman from the Office of Industrial Relations said all three cases were "in the early stages of proceedings".

Dr Annetts was a worker at South Kolan who had a health and safety duty under the act which, it is alleged, he failed to comply with.

It is alleged the failure, while tending to a four-year-old quarter horse known as Missy, exposed people to a risk of death or serious injury or illness.

The people alleged to be placed at risk are Peter Nijkamp, David Zunker and Dr Annetts himself.

Mr Nijkamp is alleged to have been in the general proximity between March 15 and 17, for the purposes of handling a horse suspected of having the hendra virus.

Dr Annetts is accused of providing Mr Nijkamp with syringes containing antibiotic medication on March 15 last year to administer to the horse on March 16 and thereafter, if required, in the absence of Dr Annetts.

On this advice, it is alleged Mr Nijkamp administered one injection into the neck muscle of the horse in the morning of Sunday, March 16 and another that evening.

Dr Annettes is alleged to then have put the horse down on March 17.

It is alleged Mr Zunker then provided excavation services to Mr Nijkamp to bury the horse the next day.

It is alleged Dr Annettes failed to adopt precautions, conduct a risk assessment of the hendra risk, based on the horse's clinical presentation and immunisation status as described in numerous guidelines on the topic.

He is further accused of failing to implement adequate protocol as provided by Biosecurity Queensland.

Dr Annetts was yesterday unable to be reached for comment.