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Hendra Information Sheet

Posted on: September 2, 2014 | In The Spotlight

What is the big deal about Hendra?


There has been a lot of discussion and traffic on facebook lately about the Hendra virus and the Hendra vaccine.

What is this all about and why is it a big deal?


Hendra virus is a fatal disease of horses. It is spread by flying foxes, of which we have a large colony in Wingham.

The clinical signs of hendra virus in the horse can mimic many other diseases. Any sick horse is a potential hendra case. This is where it gets tricky for horse owners and veterinarians. Even a lame or colicy horse could be an early case of Hendra. Hendra virus can be transferred to humans through infected body fluids from their horse. Unfortunately most human cases of Hendra virus have died.


Fortunately there is a vaccine now available for horses to protect them(and therefore people!) from hendra virus. Hundreds of horses in the Manning Valley are now vaccinated against hendra. This means that they can be attended by a Veterinarian for routine things like dentals and diligently treated if they become sick.

Unvaccinated horses, on the other hand, present a problem.


Doing routine procedures on unvaccinated horses carries with it a risk, as the horses may be incubating Hendra and not showing any signs of illness. Veterinarians performing dental work come into contact with saliva and nasal secretions, which could carry virus. Attending sick horses that are unvaccinated pose a potential risk for veterinarian and owner.

Because the clinical signs of hendra can include almost anything, every unvaccinated sick horse now needs to be considered a potential hendra case until proven otherwise.


What this means in real terms is that the attending veterinarian will have to wear full protective covering including disposable overalls, gloves, goggles and mask. Horses will be examined and swabs taken to exclude hendra virus. Some initial treatment will be administered, but extensive treatments may not be done until the all clear is received from the laboratory. This may take several days. Treating these suspect horses in the meantime will require great care and costly protective clothing. They will not be able to be transferred to our Veterinary Hospital or referred elsewhere. Any positive hendra cases will need to be euthanased.


This is the big deal about Hendra. Hendra virus is fatal to horses and it is fatal to humans. Unvaccinated horses are about to become second class equine citizens.


Due to the OH&S concerns for all our staff members, the vets at Wingham and Valley will, in the near future, be unable to carry out ant routine procedure on an unvaccinated horse.

Unvaccinated horses that are sick will still be attended, but due to the cost of protective clothing and equipment required, the fee to see them will be an extra $75.00 on top of the consultation fee.


Wingham and Valley Vets recommend all horses and donkeys be vaccinated against Hendra virus. Hendra is a big deal. It is fatal to horses. It is fatal to humans.


If you have any questions about the vaccine, please call Wingham and Vets on 65570000.



Contact Us

  • Phone: 6557 0000
    Location: 82 Combined Street
    Wingham NSW 2429
    Mon to Fri 8:30am - 5:30pm
    Sat 9:00am - 12:00pm