4 people given the all clear from Hendra Virus
Four people exposed to the blood and saliva of a horse infected with the Hendra virus have been discharged from hospital after treatment.
Two horses that died at the J4S stud at Cawarral, east of Rockhampton, tested positive to the virus, while tests on humans have been negative.
The first round of sampling of 36 horses – including 25 at the property and 11 that left before it went into quarantine – have returned negative results.
A second and final round of blood tests will take place in about a fortnight.
Human tests won’t be complete until the end of August, after the 21-day incubation period from the initial exposure.
Four people most at risk of contracting the virus underwent a five-day intravenous course of an experimental drug to prevent possible onset of the potentially deadly virus.
Queensland’s chief health officer Jeannette Young said the treatment, Ribavirin, had been recommended by four infectious disease physicians experienced with the virus.
“The four (in Rockhampton hospital) were offered prophylactic treatment as they were at significant risk of developing the infection,” Dr Young said.
“We won’t actually know if they’ve been infected until 21 days after the last exposure.”
Queensland Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin told parliament on Tuesday that more than 40 officers from Biosecurity Queensland have been working on the outbreak since it came to light.
“Hendra virus has been confirmed in the horse that died on August 8 and another horse that died the day before,” he told parliament.
“I stress that further testing of all 36 horses will be required over the next few weeks because the antibodies that demonstrate previous exposure to Hendra virus take time to develop and be measured by diagnostic tests.”
Queensland is the only place in the world where any human deaths from the disease have been recorded.
Dr Young said that since the disease was first discovered in 1994, three people out of the six that had tested positive had died from the disease, while 39 horses had tested positive.
“It’s a relatively new disease. We don’t know if it existed before 1994,” Dr Young said.
The Cawarral stud and a neighbouring property remain under quarantine and are expected to remain so for at least three weeks.
Mr Mulherin said the biosecurity measures were being independently audited by leading veterinarian Dr Nigel Perkins.
By Petrina Berry