Breakthrough Hendra virus vaccine

A NEW experimental vaccine that helps to protect horses against the deadly Hendra virus could be available as early as 2012.

“Our trials so far have shown that the vaccine prevents the infection of horses with Hendra virus,” Dr Deborah Middleton from CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory said yesterday.

Stopping the disease in horses could also help protect people from the disease.

“A horse vaccine is crucial to breaking the cycle of Hendra virus transmission from flying foxes to horses and then to people, as it prevents both the horse developing the disease and passing it on,” Dr Middleton said.

Hendra virus first appeared in 1994 and five of the 14 known outbreaks have spread to people. The virus has killed four of the seven people infected, including Rockhampton vet Dr Alistair Rogers and horse trainer Vic Rail.

Dr Barry Smyth, Australian Veterinary Association president, said the news would be welcomed by vets and horse owners.


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