Kerrod Smyth from Laurel Glen Equine Centre contemplates the threat of Hendra Virus in CQ.
Kerrod Smyth from Laurel Glen Equine Centre contemplates the threat of Hendra Virus in CQ. Allan Reinikka

Fear of Hendra in equine circles

AS ALTON Downs horse breeder Kerrod Smyth walked towards one of his horses who looked to be in distress at the weekend, he couldn't help but think, “could this be Hendra?”

The deadly virus continues to be a major concern, especially for those in the equine industry, as case numbers grow on the eastern shoreline of Australia.

With the most recent outbreaks in Hervey Bay and Boondall last week, along with Beaudesert, Mt Alford, Park Ridge and Kuranda, there are now six locations where Biosecurity Queensland is managing the quarantine.

But Mr Smyth said the industry should be taking precautions now to prevent the virus from spreading any closer to our backyard, claiming bats should be culled to minimise the risk of infection.

“There is an element of fear, because how many more horses and people need to die before something is done about it?” the owner of Laurel Glen Equine Centre said.

“I think the Biosecurity are doing a good job, but from what's been shown on the news, no matter how vigilant you are, there's a possibility of contracting it.”

According to senior veterinary pathologist at CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory Deborah Middleton, a vaccine for the virus won't be available for 18 more months.

But director of Wildlife Carer's Network Inc. and bat carer Joy Davidson Lee said killing bats should not be the answer to eradicating the virus.

“They've had 17 years to figure out where it comes from and they still can't directly link it to the bats,” she said.



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