01:33 pm, Tuesday 18 December, 2012
A new vaccine against Hendra virus has been developed. The vaccine will be an important line of defence against the virus and will minimise the risk of infection for vaccinated horses and for anyone looking after or working with them.
The vaccine will be released under special conditions and only veterinarians who have completed an online training module managed by the manufacturer will be authorised to administer the vaccine.
“Horse owners are encouraged to talk to their veterinarian about this new vaccine. Importantly though, as no vaccine is 100 percent effective, stringent biosecurity, work health and safety and infection control measures are still required to protect against Hendra virus infection, even with vaccinated horses,” said Dr Ki Douglas, Chief Medical Officer for Workplace Health and Safety Queensland.
“Horse owners and those working in the equine industry should implement effective work health and safety measures where there is contact with horses and their blood, tissues and body fluids, even after a horse has received the vaccine,” she said.
Safe work practices and suitable personal protective equipment (PPE) as well as careful risk management of the situation are still required to effectively manage potential Hendra virus exposures.
“PPE and hygiene practices are an important part of personal safety when dealing with sick animals, as is developing a plan for responding to potential case of Hendra virus on your property or at the workplace. All workers should be trained in the implementation of the plan,” said Dr Douglas.
Hendra virus is a sporadic disease of horses which can be transmitted to humans causing serious illness or even death. Humans can be infected through close contact with the blood, body fluids and tissues of infected horses. Since 1994, there have been seven confirmed cases of Hendra virus infection in humans.
Those suspected to have been infected must contact the Biosecurity Queensland on 13 25 23 (business hours) or the Emergency Animal Disease Watch Hotline on 1800 675 888 (24 hour hotline).
The vaccine is available under permit from accredited veterinarians.