June to October has proven to be the most prevalent time for Hendra Virus and so far this year a number of cases have been confirmed in Queensland and Northern New South Wales. With Hendra Virus back in the news headlines I wanted to discuss the vaccination and in particular the risks and effects of this contagious disease on the veterinary industry.
Never before has there been a disease that can have such a detrimental effect on the horse industry, including both people and horses. Equine Influenza (EI), had an effect on all horses with horses falling ill and horse movement restrictions being in place for a number of months, but the difference between that and Hendra was that there was no risk to human life and only a few horses died. Hendra Virus by comparison, is so dangerous that all horses that have contracted the virus have died or been euthanased. So far seven people have been infected and four of those have died. There is currently no cure or registered treatment for Hendra Virus. It is this risk to human life which is causing veterinarians to question whether they should be visiting or treating unvaccinated horses. Some vets are reportedly already refusing to visit unvaccinated horses and I can only presume that this number may increase.