STAY CAUTIOUS: Dr Duncan Smith is warning people to vaccinate their horses.
STAY CAUTIOUS: Dr Duncan Smith is warning people to vaccinate their horses. Zach Hogg BUNHEN

Unvaccinated horses may not receive treatment

A VET has said his colleagues could refuse to deal with unvaccinated horses in the future after the first outbreak of the deadly hendra virus in the Bundaberg region.

Two South Kolan properties were placed under quarantine last month after one horse was diagnosed with hendra virus.

The horse was later euthanised.

Isis Veterinary Services' Dr Duncan Smith said the region's vets were trying to educate horse owners about the necessity of protecting their animal via vaccination.

He said it was possible the main reason people weren't vaccinating their horses was the cost.

"It costs $250 to vaccinate a horse," he said.

"That's not so bad if you've only got one horse, but if you've got 10 horses that's $2500."

Dr Smith said he understood that between the floods and the drought these had been tough times for the Wide Bay region.

But he said the message he was trying to get out was that there was a safe, effective vaccine that had been available for 18 months.

And vets had to protect themselves if a horse had not been vaccinated.

The hendra virus had already killed four people, including two vets.

"One of the vets who died may have contracted the virus by treating the horse before it showed any symptoms," he said.

The hendra virus is endemic among bats, who do not suffer from the disease.

But it can be transmitted to horses through bat urine, faeces or aborted fetuses. Horses can transmit it to other horses or humans.

The virus is transmitted by droplets.

SYMPTOMS

Rapid onset of illness

Increased body temperature/fever

Increased heart rate

Discomfort/weight shifting between legs

Depression

Rapid deterioration with either respiratory and/or nervous signs