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Hendra Virus claims fifth horse death in Australia

AUSTRALIAN median have reported the death of a fifth horse from the Hendra virus on the north coast of New South Wales.

Hendra is a rare, fatal respiratory virus that is thought to originate from contact with urine or birthing fluid from fruit bats and seems to be confined to Australia.

The virus emerged in Brisbane in 1994, when it killed racehorse trainer Vic Rail and around 20 of his thoroughbred horses.

The latest case was a horse found dead in a paddock at Mullumbimby on Sunday. Tests confirmed the cause was the Hendra Virus.

The New South Wales Department of Primary Industries said the horse “was not noticeably ill the day before” and that the property “has been placed under quarantine”.

Four other horses at the property - including one who looks "particularly crook" according to the DPI senior vet Ian Roth - are considered at risk and other animals, including cats and dogs at the farm, will be tested.

The property is known to have a large fig tree which is inhabited by fruit bats. Local horse owners are being encouraged by authorities to move the animals as well as their feed and water away from similar trees to avoid transmission of the virus.


 

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