The diagnosis of another Hendra virus case near Beenleigh recently, and the reported potential exposure of 4 people to the affected horse, supports the possibility that Hendra Virus is likely to continue be diagnosed in Australia. It is easy to sit down on the Central Coast of NSW and say that it is a disease only found in Queensland and northern NSW but the fact is that testing of bats in Australia as far south as Melbourne has shown they have been exposed to Hendra Virus, so it may be remiss to assume that we will not see any cases down here.

I previously worked in an area where Hendra virus has been diagnosed and as a veterinarian I am in support of the use of the Hendra virus vaccine to be more confident in not having to wait for test results for suspect Hendra virus cases. The Hendra virus vaccine released at the end of 2012 performed extremely well in laboratory testing, and after over 18 months of its use the main side effect would appear to be a small temporary swelling at the site of vaccine administration. There have been no cases of Hendra virus reported in horses up to date with their Hendra vaccinations.

Conversations with horse owners have suggested one of the main reasons people are not vaccinating is the perceived cost, but when the cost is put into perspective compared to the everyday cost of feed, farriers, equipment plus the potential cost emotionally and financially in the event Hendra were to be diagnosed in a local horse it appears to me to be a minor cost. It can easily be built into your horses routine vaccination program against tetanus and strangles and other procedures such as dental checks.