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Hendra Vaccine Release

Wednesday 7th Nov 2012

The Hendra Vaccine has been released as from 1st November. A new case of Hendra virus detected in Ingham, North Queensland, in recent days highlights the need for all horse owners to remain vigilant in order to protect their horses, owners and handlers from this deadly disease. Trials have shown the vaccine to be very effective with minimal reported side effects; however vaccinated horses showing signs of Hendra Virus infection should still be treated with great care.

Due to strict government guidelines a permit to obtain and administer Hendra Virus vaccine can only be gained by accredited veterinarians. All horses must have a general health examination prior to vaccination.

The vaccine is available to all accredited vets in the BLUE ZONE encompassing Toowoomba and the Darling Downs from November 1st.

VACCINATION PROTOCOL

The vaccination programme requires two (2) doses to be given by an accredited veterinarian as an intramuscular injection exactly twenty-one (21) days apart. The timing of the second dose is crucial so the first dose should not be scheduled unless you are sure you can make the horse available for re-vaccination in 21 days. If the second dose is missed (or late) the data base will register the horse as unvaccinated and the program must be re-commenced.

All horses must be micro-chipped and identified and details entered by the veterinarian on the data base within 48 hours after each vaccination. Horses which are currently micro-chipped will not need to be done again. (Many horses were micro-chipped during the equine influenza outbreak in 2007 and all Thoroughbreds should already be done).

FOALS cannot be vaccinated until four (4) months of age. Thoroughbred foals should be vaccinated after they are micro-chipped for the Stud Book.

PREGNANT MARES - At this stage no data exists regarding the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine in pregnant mares so vaccination is currently not recommended during pregnancy. However veterinarians have vaccinated pregnant mares, with no reported adverse reactions to date. Vaccination of pregnant mares is a therefore personal choice.

STALLIONS - It is recommended that stallions not be vaccinated during the breeding season due to the possibility of a temperature spike at the time of vaccination which may affect fertility for a significant period. It is quite safe to vaccinate stallions either after all mares are covered or eight (8) weeks before the commencement of the breeding season.

Due to the development of antibodies after vaccination it is possible that horses that have been vaccinated may not be eligible for export to some countries such as Malaysia and possibly Brazil for the Olympics.  Further research into the difference between antibodies developed after vaccination and those occurring due to exposure to the disease should rectify this situation.

Although the vaccination process may seem expensive at first glance, it is cheap if it saves the life of your horse or, more importantly, you, your loved ones or your Vet when attending a Hendra infected horse

It appears that southern thoroughbred studs as well as organisers of agricultural shows, campdrafts, polocrosse and pony club events will require proof of vaccination in the future for the protection of the competition horses and their handlers.

There may also come a time when those personnel involved in the horse industry such as veterinarians, chiropractors and dentists will require proof of vaccination before treatment, or attract a significantly higher fee due to the risk involved and / or  the cost of the personal protection measures necessary when treating a suspect horse.

Please contact the office (07 4691 0322) to arrange vaccination for your horse.

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