Getting your horse vaccinated is the best way to protect against hendra.
Getting your horse vaccinated is the best way to protect against hendra. Bev Lacey

Take action against hendra by vaccinating your horse

AGRICULTURE, Fisheries and Forestry Minister John McVeigh has urged horse owners to protect themselves and their horses from Hendra virus by vaccination.

"I'm urging all horse owners to vaccinate as we head towards the peak winter risk period for hendra," Mr McVeigh said.

"Vaccination is the best way to reduce the risk of hendra infection. Sadly, human infection and deaths have occurred from high-level exposure to body fluids from infected horses.

"By vaccinating, owners aren't just protecting their horses, they're also protecting themselves, their family and employees.

"I strongly advise horse owners to discuss vaccination with their vet."

Mr McVeigh said while recent data showed the vaccine offered protection for up to six months, people in contact with horses still needed to use common sense and follow hygiene practices.

"The hendra virus vaccine is only for hendra virus and horses can carry other diseases. Anyone handling sick horses should take steps to protect themselves using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE)," he said.

The vaccine manufacturer, Zoetis Australia, joined the Minister in his call for increased vigilance and vaccination during the hendra virus peak season.

"This vaccine is crucial in breaking the hendra virus cycle of transmission from flying foxes to horses and then to humans," Dr Stephanie Armstrong of Zoetis Australia said.

"By minimising the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses, we can all help protect Queensland horse owners, handlers, veterinarians and the broader community from this potentially fatal disease."

Last year, the State Government implemented its $1 million PPE rebate program to support veterinarians when dealing with suspected Hendra virus cases.

The program provides a rebate to Queensland vets on eligible equipment used when dealing with suspect horses.

Mr McVeigh encouraged horse owners and vets to review disease protocols and take all steps to reduce infection risks.

>> Download the Biosecurity Queensland Information for Horse Owners Pack or call 132 523

For information on the Hendra virus vaccine, visit www.health4horses.com.au.