Flying foxes in firing line over Hendra
The owner of a trail riding property at the centre of a Hendra virus outbreak wants flying foxes removed from urban centres to decrease the infection risk to humans.
Michael Trout, owner of Blazing Saddles near Kuranda and LNP candidate for Barron River, said flying fox numbers were out of control and common sense was needed to protect residents in populated areas such as Cairns.
Mr Trout’s brother Luke and three other staff members are awaiting test results to determine if they were infected during contact with the horse, which died on Monday.
While health authorities say the infection risk to staff is low, Luke Trout was in close contact with the horse the day before it died, including putting his arm down its throat when he thought it was suffering from colic.
He was not wearing protective gloves or clothing at the time.
Two young boys from New South Wales who patted the infected horse during a visit to Blazing Saddles just days before it died are also being tested for the virus.
There are no bat colonies at Blazing Saddles so it is not known exactly how the horse, a five-year-old mare called Cheeky, became infected.
It is believed the horse may have eaten grass that was contaminated by an infected flying fox as it flew over the property.
Nine properties are now under quarantine across Queensland, with six confirmed horse deaths from Hendra virus.
Kennedy MP Bob Katter yesterday called for a mass culling of flying foxes to protect the health of Queenslanders.
Mr Trout said he did not know the best way to remove colonies from urban areas, but said the large number of horses throughout Cairns and the northern beaches posed too great a risk for
He also urged authorities to allow quad bike rides to resume at Blazing Saddles as soon as possible, with all horses now quarantined on a 6ha section of the 1200ha property for the next six weeks.
"I don’t know the best way to do it, but we need to seriously look at how we can get rid of flying foxes from populated areas," he said.
"Is it worth putting the protection of flying foxes ahead of the potential cost of human life?"
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Alarm bells: Flying foxes are again in the firing line after Hendra virus fears near Kuranda.