Hendra virus was first isolated in 1994 in a racing stable in the suburb of Hendra, Brisbane. Hendra virus is a zoonotic disease, which means it can transfer from animals to people.
The natural host for Hendra virus is the flying fox, which is a protected species under the Nature Conservation Act 1992 for their importance to the environment. The virus can spread from flying foxes to horses and, rarely, from horses to people. Government research programs are aiding future disease interventions (including in response to the recent case of a dog testing positive for the virus).
On 1 November 2012 a Hendra virus vaccine for horses was released. According to the company manufacturing the vaccine horses in NSW and Qld will be the first to be immunised. The vaccine can only be administered by accredited Veterinarians.
The Queensland Government is encouraging all horse owners and handlers across Queensland to obtain a Hendra virus information pack. You can receive a pack by subscribing online or contacting the Department of Employment, Economic Development & Innovation's Customer Service Centre on 13 25 23.
If you suspect Hendra virus, please contact Biosecurity Queensland immediately on 13 25 23 or the Emergency Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888.