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Hendra virus, horses & the blek bokis

BY PAUL OATES

A TOPICAL SUBJECT in Australia at the moment is the Hendra Virus (and also Lisser Virus) and the fact it is carried by flying foxes (aka blek bokis).

Recently, horses just along the road from our property at Boonah died from Hendra virus. The horse owner’s dog then tested positive and was put down.

Our vet, who attended the horses, fortunately tested negative for the disease.  Worrying.  It’s a bit hard to ignore something when it’s that close to home.

We now find from the authorities that “there was no prior record of the disease being passed on to domestic dogs and cats outside the laboratory.”

CSIRO reports that horses, cats and guinea pigs can excrete virus in their urine. So now we have a dog that became infected. What’s next, one may ask?

Some Papua New Guineans eat flying foxes and don’t seem to suffer problems.

Yet no one appears to have heard of the disease outside Australia.

Could it be in danger of spreading, given the roaming nature of bats and their quest for food?

Papua New Guineans have dogs, and one would think that those dogs would at some stage have been in contact with bat effluvia or with horses and donkeys in PNG that have been in contact with bats.

So do PNG people have some immunity or is this an entirely new disease?

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