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Hendra virus spreads in Australia

Updated: 2012-08-01 09:57
( English.news.cn)

An equestrian center in north Queensland, Australia, has been placed in quarantine after tests confirmed a horse that died there lately was infected with the deadly Hendra virus.

Local rancher Kevin Goan's four-year-old gelding died at the Redlynch Equestrian grounds last Friday, barely 48 hours after showing signs of delirium and illness.

According to a spokesman at Australia's Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO), it's the sixth Hendra outbreak in Queensland this year.

Local MP Michael Trout has led a concerned agricultural sector in urging Australian and Queensland governments to prioritize the development of a Hendra virus vaccine.

"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," Trout said.

"This is a unique situation because all the others have been individual owners, but this one involves a few families (owning horses at the property)."

A property at Rockhampton in North Queensland and two properties near Mackay remain under quarantine after recent cases of Hendra.

While there have been no human fatalities, a Rockhampton woman remains in a stable condition with no signs of the virus after she sustained high level exposure to a horse that died from Hendra two weeks ago.

Biosecurity Queensland is tracing other horses that may have come into contact with the latest victim and is talking to their owners.

Hendra first appeared in September 1994, when a leading Queensland horse trainer, his stablehand, and most of his horses were all struck down by a sudden and unknown illness. Within several days, the trainer and 14 horses were dead.

Australia's national science agency, the CSIRO through it's Australia Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) has been actively involved in each recorded Hendra virus incident since it first emerged over 15 years ago.

It was the AAHL's diagnostic team that identified what proved to be an entirely new virus whose origin and nature had not been isolated anywhere else in the world.

Hendra is named after the Brisbane suburb in which the first outbreak occurred.