Vaccination increases safety

TWO Orange horse studs have welcomed the launch of a Hendra virus vaccine and said it will make life for them and their horses a lot safer.

Since the virus was recognised in 1994, seven people have contracted it, resulting in four deaths.

The virus spread by bats, which has no known cure, has also killed 81 horses in this time, including nine this year.

While current hot spots for the Hendra virus are in Queensland and northern NSW, there is a risk of infected horses coming into Orange or local horses travelling to these areas and becoming infected.

The launch of the vaccine follows years of testing and Reality Arabians co-owner Ricky Carver has welcomed the vaccination.

“In terms of horses and people everywhere, it’s going to be a lot more safer,” he said.

The Springside based Reality Arabians performance show team and small stud farm will use the vaccine on horses that leave the farm to take part in shows.

“We haven’t showed horses in Queensland for the simple fact we haven’t wanted to take the risk of contracting Hendra virus,” he said.

Eagle Park Stud owner Peter Ward said the vaccine would make travelling a lot less risky.

“If we take horses up to Queensland particularly for the Magic Millions Sale there was a bit of a concern,” he said.

“It didn’t cause us a lot of grief but it was something that was in the back of our mind.”

Orange Veterinary Hospital veterinarian Andrew Litchfield said vaccinations would initially target Hendra hot spots.

“It’s great news and it’s wonderful that it’s an Australian developed vaccine and they’ve managed to develop it very quickly,” he said.

“Like most vaccines it’s not going to work 100 per cent so that means people need to be careful with quarantine of horses.

“We’re probably very fortunate to not be in an at-risk area.”

Mr Litchfield said the vaccination can only be administered by a qualified veterinarian.

Shadow minister for Agriculture and Food Security John Cobb welcomed the move to conquer the deadly virus.

“It is a real testament to the CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong that they could lead the development of a vaccine for a category four pathogen that no one else in the world has been able to achieve,” he said.

nadine.morton@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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