Stud manager Debbie Brown faces an agonising wait to discover if she has the fatal disease.
Stud manager Debbie Brown faces an agonising wait to discover if she has the fatal disease. Chris Ison

Hendra high-risk victims face wait

EIGHT people considered to be most at risk of contracting the deadly Hendra virus face an agonising wait for the results of tests.

It could be three weeks before they know if they have an illness which has proved fatal in half its victims so far.

The eight - property owner John Brady, four of his staff and three vets - were identified from a total of 34 people who had been in contact with Jackowah's Regal Princess, the prized mare confirmed to have died from Hendra at the J4S Equine Nursery in Cawarral, 20 kilometres north-east of Rockhampton, on Saturday.

Queensland Health deputy director-general Andrew Wilson said they were considered to have had significant exposure to the horse before it died.

Debbie said she had been sprayed with the horse's blood and mucus as it lay dying.

Two of the at-risk group were tested by their GPs and the others were seen at the farm yesterday afternoon by Queensland Health staff.

Blood samples will be tested in a laboratory in Brisbane, but a Queensland Health spokesman said the initial readings would only give an indication of their health.

“There's no accurate test for Hendra. You can get false positives and false negatives. We will know more in two to three weeks but in previous outbreaks a person showed no symptoms for 15 months before the dormant virus struck.”

Dr Christine Selvey, who heads Queensland Health's communicable diseases branch, said the initial tests would provide a base-line reading and would not give the worried stable workers the all-clear. Follow-up testing in two to three weeks would give a clearer picture.

Mr Brady said he faced a grim period, waiting to hear if he had a fatal disease and potentially watching his business disintegrate.

“We will know the results of the first tests on the horses on Friday,” he said.

“If any of those tests come back suspect, those horses will be put down.”

You can get false positives and false negatives
 
 
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"I wish Anna Bligh would spend a day in my shoes and see how complacent she is then." 


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