Hendra review recommends authorities to work closer to manage health risks

An independent review into the handling of the latest Hendra outbreak at a central Queensland property has recommended authorities work closer to manage health risks.

Rockhampton veterinarian Dr Alister Rodgers died from the virus on September 1 after treating infected horses in August at J4S stud at Cawarral, northeast of Rockhampton.
A report by veterinary surgeon Dr Nigel Perkins, who also reviewed the response to a Hendra outbreak last year, says more needs to be done to improve workplace health and safety during an outbreak.
He recommended Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries work with Queensland Health and other stakeholders, including vet associations and horse industry groups, to manage the human health risk during a suspect Hendra case.
The review, tabled in state parliament on Tuesday, praised Biosecurity Queensland for its timely and effective response to the outbreak, involving four infected horses which either died or were euthanased.
Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin said authorities heeded recommendations in Dr Perkins’ 2008 review into the Redlands and Proserpine Hendra outbreaks and acted quickly during the Cawarral case.
"The (latest) report found Biosecurity Queensland was on site within 90 minutes of being first notified of a suspect case on August 8," Mr Mulherin said.
"Quarantine was declared the same day to immediately minimise any risk of further exposure of horses and humans to the virus."
But the state opposition says the report also raises significant concerns regarding the training and funding for emergency unit staff at Biosecurity Queensland.
Liberal National Party (LNP) primary industries spokesman Ray Hopper said a lack of funding has meant staff received no functional training in the past 12 months.
"Dr Perkins states that inadequate resources are currently being directed at the critical training, support and preparedness function," Mr Hopper said.
"In other words, the emergency unit is being starved of funds and there’s not enough training."
Mr Mulherin said the report also highlighted the need for vets and people in the horse industry to take appropriate precautions to prevent Hendra infections.
Biosecurity Queensland is waiting on a final round of horse test results before lifting the quarantine at the Cawarral stud.

By Petrina Berry