Equestrian club takes no chances with hendra
A REDLYNCH equestrian facility quarantined due to a Hendra virus outbreak earlier this year has made the new vaccine compulsory for horses owned by members.
There has been a strong take-up of the drug across the state according to vets, with about 13,000 doses administered since it went on the market last month.
Redlynch Equestrian Association president Kevin Goan, whose horse Rusty died from the disease about five months ago, said their committee had decided anyone's horses agisted at the property needed to be vaccinated to prevent further outbreaks.
"Everyone was very supportive of it,'' he said.
"Most other pony clubs are considering doing the same thing.
"We have a membership in excess of 100 and no one else was able to use the ground during the quarantine so we just said anyone who wanted to leave their horse overnight should be vaccinated.''
Mr Goan's three horses received the vet-administered shot which costs $285 per horse - slightly less if they're microchipped -and requires two shots 21 days apart.
Veterinarian Stephanie Armstrong, from Pfizer Animal Health, said there had been a great initial response statewide which showed horse owners understand the serious threat the virus poses.
But she says it will take some time to build up a high level of herd immunity across the nation.
"Horse owners really understand that this is the only tool available to them to prevent infection in horses,'' she said yesterday.
The Hendra virus is endemic across Australia and is spread from flying foxes to horses, who can in turn infect humans.
Since it was first detected in 1994, seven people have been infected with the virus, with four people dying.
Dr Armstrong said a permit system set up around the vaccine was also yielding valuable data. Vets have to keep detailed records, meaning authorities have access to data about vaccination rates that will be useful in dealing with future cases.
"The vaccine is certainly a good insurance policy for a disease that can have devastating consequences for businesses, and the loss of horse and human life.''
She said the rollout of the vaccine had also shown it was extremely safe, with only a handful of minor reactions in the 13,000 horses given the shots.
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