Hendra virus is a virus that mainly infects large fruit bats (flying foxes) which can be passed on to horses. The infection has occasionally been passed onto people who have been in close contact with an infected horse.
NSW Department of Primary Industries
Hendra Virus Fact Sheet
Vaccination is the best way to protect your horse and your family members from this potentially deadly viral infection.
WHAT IS 12-MONTH DOI? ‘DOI’ is an acronym for ‘Duration of Immunity’. It refers to the required interval between boosters for ongoing protection with vaccination programs.
WHAT IS THE COST OF THE VACCINE? Pricing will vary between veterinarians and will depend on the number of horses being vaccinated, and the location. On average the cost for a dose to be administered is similar to the cost of a shoeing.
IS THE HENDRA VACCINE FULLY REGISTERED? Yes, The Equivac® HeV vaccine is fully registered by the Australian government veterinary medicines regulator, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA).
IS THE HENDRA VACCINE SAFE FOR MY PREGNANT MARE? In January 2016, the APVMA approved the administration of Equivac® HeV to pregnant mares. It is not however recommended that horses be vaccinated during the first 6 weeks after conception or during the final 2 weeks before foaling.
IS THE HENDRA VACCINE SAFE? Since 2012, over 440,000 dose of the Hendra vaccine have been administered to Australian horses. The reported adverse event rate is approximately 0.28%. This translates to approximately one reaction for every 350 doses administered. The majority of these reports involved temporary injection site swellings, lethargy, muscle soreness associated with the injection site and reductions in appetite. These types of reactions are associated with many vaccines, including human vaccines. The vaccine contains no live virus, consequently there is zero risk of Hendra infection resulting from vaccination.
HOW IS THE HENDRA VIRUS TRANSMITTED? It is thought that the Hendra virus is transmitted from fruit bat to horse via feed contaminated with fruit bat urine, faeces or body fluids.1 Hendra virus can be spread from horse to horse and horse to human through close contact with bodily fluids from an infected horse.1
I LIVE IN A LOW RISK AREA, DO I STILL NEED TO VACCINATE? Wherever there are fruit bats, there is a risk of Hendra virus infection. It only takes one bat for the disease to be transmitted. Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses. By vaccinating horses, owners are also protecting themselves, their families and anyone who comes into contact with horses. A recent study confirmed detection of Hendra virus in urine samples collected under fruit bat roosts in geographical areas where Hendra outbreaks have not yet been recorded, confirming that risk extends beyond the localities where equine Hendra infections have already occurred.2
1. Hess IMR, Massey PD, Walker B, Middleton DJ, Wright TM. Hendra Virus: What do we know? NSW Public Health Bulletin, 2011;22(5-6):118-22. 2. Field H, Jordan D, Edson D, Morris S, Melville D, Parry-Jones K, et al. (2015) Spatiotemporal Aspects of Hendra Virus Infection in Pteropid Bats (Flying-Foxes) in Eastern Australia. PLoS ONE 10(12): e0144055. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0144055
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