SOUTHERN DOWNS vets and horse owners will eagerly await the outcome of a state government inquiry into Hendra virus protocol announced yesterday.
The inquiry, called for by Parliament speaker Peter Wellington in December, will investigate the effects of Hendra vaccine and the consequences of refusing to treat unvaccinated horses.
Vets currently face heavy fines for refusing to treat horses with the virus.
Warwick Veterinary Clinic vet Chris Reardon said many vets found it paramount to provide a safe workplace for themselves and workers.
"I'm very concerned for my colleagues," Dr Reardon said.
"Here they are trying to do their best to provide health and welfare and they find themselves facing prosecutions by the Queensland government and potential heavy fines.
"It can take time for lab results to come back to confirm a Hendra case because of limitations from government and it is frustrating to see animals suffer, but these are the complications that have arisen.
"Horses can carry and spread the virus without showing symptoms, and we should be able to work in a safe place, which means horses are vaccinated."
Warwick Show and Rodeo Society president John Kiss said the inquiry could help to resolve some of the issues around vaccination.
"There's a lot of confusion among horse owners and organisations about what is required in terms of vaccination," Dr Kiss said.
"A lot of horse sport organisations have not been able to make it compulsory for horses to have Hendra vaccinations because owners can't afford it.
"We hold the rodeo every year with close to 1200 horses on the ground, and it's a major headache and concern for us, like other big horse events, that many horse owners can't maintain their vaccines."
Dr Reardon said although it was costly, vaccination was the best way to guard both humans and horses against the virus.
"The vaccination is registered with Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority and it is the safest way to protect horses and people," he said.
"You can't put a price on human life and particularly if you are coming into contact with blood or bodily fluids there is always a risk.
"The vaccine is designed to protect humans by reducing the spread of the virus it's breaking the cycle between horses and humans.
"Hopefully this inquiry will shed some light while we're encouraging as many horse owners as possible to use this product."
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