Hendra virus

Important notice

Hendra virus is a notifiable disease.
If you suspect the presence of this disease, you must report it to your local state veterinary authority or the national Emergency Disease Watch Hotline 1800 675 888.

Hendra virus vaccine ‘Equivac HeV’ is currently being made available through veterinary practices in Australia. See further information below.

As at 27 July 2011, the first reported case of a dog testing positive for the Hendra virus outside of laboratory conditions was announced. It is recommended that people keep companion animals, such as dogs and cats, away from sick horses to reduce the risk of an infection.

The Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, has a role in:

  • managing market access issues that may arise (for example, export of horses, dogs and cats)
  • analysing and sharing technical information with other government departments (such as the Department of Health and Ageing)
  • making sure all states and territories are provided with situation updates by the affected states
  • international notification through the World Organisation for Animal Health of significant developments
  • membership of the Hendra virus task force established by the Premiers of Queensland and New South Wales
  • support for research on developing a Hendra virus vaccine for horses 

The Commonwealth would coordinate a national animal health response if one was initiated under the Emergency Animal Disease Response Agreement, but this is considered unlikely at this time.

The Commonwealth remains committed to supporting the states and territories in their efforts to combat the emergence of the virus and have joined with Queensland and NSW governments in the Hendra virus taskforce and is committing funds to cross border Hendra virus research.

New Hendra virus vaccine ‘Equivac HeV’ for horses

  • On 1 November 2012 a Hendra virus vaccine ‘Equivac HeV,’ manufactured by Pfizer Animal Health in Australia, became available for use in horses. Availability is currently restricted to parts of Queensland and NSW until sufficient stocks of the vaccine become available for the rest of Australia. This is expected in the coming months.
  • The Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) has issued a permit to allow the sale and use of the vaccine under strict conditions. This includes the vaccine only being able to be administered by accredited veterinarians, and that vaccinated horses need to be identified by a microchip with their details recorded in a database.
  • These conditions will remain in-place at-least until the vaccine has completed its assessment for full registration by the APVMA.
  • While the vaccine will help protect people from contracting the potentially lethal virus by preventing transmission from bats to properly vaccinated horses, the community should not become complacent. No vaccine is one hundred percent effective and strict biosecurity measures will still be required when dealing with sick horses.
  • The vaccine is an important step towards breaking the cycle of this disease and reducing its impact on Australia’s horse owning community.

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New South Wales

Queensland

Questions and answers on Hendra virus