Michael Trout leads call to double efforts on Hendra vaccine
BARRON River MP Michael Trout has urged governments to fast-track the development of a Hendra virus vaccine as the devastated family of a Cairns horse struck down by the illness comes to terms with their loss.
Kevin and Rebecca Goan’s four-year-old gelding Rusty died at the Redlynch Equestrian Association grounds on Friday morning, about 48 hours after becoming ill.
Initial tests confirmed the cause of death was Hendra virus and the animal was removed by biosecurity officers on Saturday. Hendra concerns prompted the cancellation of a gymkhana at the Freshwater pony club at the weekend and a showjumping state championship event is at risk as the full effects of the incident are felt throughout the horse owners’ community. The Redlynch property and a neighbouring block will spend a month in strict quarantine as the other 16 horses based there undergo tests.
Mr Trout’s own property, Blazing Saddles, near Kuranda, was affected by Hendra just over a year ago and he said he was offering support to the Goans.
He has called for the introduction of a vaccine. The CSIRO is attempting to develop one but has yet to have full success.
"I would urge all levels of government on going full steam ahead in developing a vaccine so we can vaccinate our horses and we don’t have to go through this," Mr Trout said.
"This is a unique situation because all the other (cases) have been individual owners, but this one involves a few families (owning horses at the property). But they’re in good hands with biosecurity.
"It’s not the first time it has happened and now it’s just a matter of everyone understanding how it works."
Zone 18 Pony Club president Hazel Bensted backed Mr Trout’s call for a vaccine and said the industry was reeling from last week’s news.
"There is a huge risk for all horse owners despite their good practices, they can still get it," she said.
"If something can be developed which is affordable and can be administered in an easy way, that is going to be a very good thing.
"The thing with Hendra is it’s so random. You don’t know when your horse is going to get the virus. You have no control on where the flying foxes are."
Mr Goan said his family had been devastated by Rusty’s death after buying him just over a year ago with plans for his wife to begin competing with him in dressage and hacking early next year.
"My wife is devastated and I think anyone with a passion for horses, this is paramount to losing a family member," he said.
Mr Goan said the highest risk horse at the property was one who resided in a paddock next to Rusty’s which he "continuingly socialised with".
He said the neighbouring property has also been quarantined and Queensland Health were likely to hold an information session early this week which would be open to the community.
Mr Trout said the testing involves three, 16-day checks during which time the quarantine would be in place.
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Extreme care: Biosecurity Queensland officers at the Redlynch Valley property. Picture: BRENDAN FRANCIS