Workplace Health and Safety Queensland has published comprehensive online guidance on managing Hendra virus risks, offering a user friendly catalogue of tips and advice about working safely with horses.
Hendra virus is a sporadic disease of horses that can cause very serious illness in horses and humans. The natural hosts of Hendra virus are flying foxes.
Human infection results from close contact with infected horses and their blood, body fluids and tissues. Virus prevention requires stringent work health and safety and biosecurity measures.
Hendra is a risk for veterinarians, veterinary practice workers, and others affected by veterinary work, such as the horse’s owner. Human infection has occurred from veterinary procedures on infected horses, including procedures of the respiratory tract and necropsies.
Infection has been reported in a small number of dogs after close contact with an infected horse. As a precautionary measure, care should be taken if coming into contact with dogs that have had close contact with an infected horse.
A registered vaccine is available to help prevent disease in horses. Vaccination of horses is the most effective way to help manage the disease.
Veterinarians, horse businesses and owners, and businesses that dispose of horse carcases can visit worksafe.qld.gov.au for guidance on how to protect against and manage the risks from Hendra virus. There’s also information on selecting and using PPE in veterinary practice and a reference guide for infection prevention and control.