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Here's the latest news from the Australian state of Queensland, where the nightmarish Hendra virus has killed six horses in recent weeks. Seventeen people are awaiting test results to see if they have been infected with the deadly virus because of their work around the infected horses.
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When it comes to horse diseases, you've got plenty of reasons to worry, horse friends. But if you're making a list of which one to worry about most, I think you can put Hendra at the top of the list. This deadly virus not only causes a painful death to horses,? it is contagious from horses to humans and can easily be spread before the reason for the horse's symptoms are known. This video, made a few days ago, provides good background on the problem in Australia.
Hendra, named for the town in the Australian state of Queensland where it first emerged in 1994, is transmitted from flying fox bats to horses, and from horses to humans. So far, the virus has been limited to the northeastern quadrant of Australia, but disease specialists are carefully watching how and if it spreads.
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The frontline of humans at risk for Hendra virus are horse caretakers and veterinarians called to treat a sick horse who later is found to be infected with Hendra virus. In this interview, a Queensland veterinarian describes what it's like to risk your life and go in and treat a horse suspected of Hendra virus. A vet died two years ago after treating a horse.
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And what about the vaccine? Government officials say that they have successfully developed a vaccine for horses, and yet it won't be available for a while yet. This news report was published just six weeks ago. Little did those interviewed or making the video know that the virus was about to appear again.
To learn more about Hendra virus, here are some articles from the past published on The Jurga Report:
September 2009 Australian Vet Killed by Hendra Virus After Trying to Save Infected Horses Lives