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Hendra virus vaccine received APVMA permit approval

2 November 2012

The APVMA has approved a permit for the use of a vaccine, Equivac HeV Vaccine for Horses, to assist in preventing clinical disease caused by Hendra virus. Pfizer Animal Health Australia is the permit holder of the vaccine which can only be supplied and administered under strict conditions.

Equivac® HeV can only be used on micro-chipped horses and must be administered by a registered veterinary surgeon, accredited by the permit holder. In the event of a disease outbreak, horses that have been vaccinated with Equivac® HeV can then be differentiated from those exposed to the virus.

To become accredited, registered veterinary surgeons must successfully complete an online training module. The permit holder must at all times be able to report on vaccine stock movements and use throughout the supply chain.

Hendra virus mainly infects large flying foxes (fruit bats) without causing disease, and can be passed on to horses. The infection has occasionally been passed onto people who have been in close contact with an infected horse. In horses and people, disease can be serious or fatal.

Hendra virus first appeared in Australia in 1994. There have been 39 reports of the virus affecting horses with 65horses in Queensland and 11 in NSW being affected. Most of these horses died as a result of the disease or were euthanased. A dog was also put down in July 2011 following positive serology. It is thought the dog contracted the virus from one of the three infected horses on the property.

Seven people are known to have been infected with the virus of which four died.

Hendra virus infection in humans can have serious consequences. People should not assume that vaccinated horses cannot contract the disease. Horse owners should take the same precautions with vaccinated horses to prevent them becoming infected from flying foxes, and to prevent humans being infected by horses, as are recommended for unvaccinated horses. Advice on these precautions is available on the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry website.

Further information

Contact

Media Inquiries

Phone: +61 2 6210 4812
Mobile: +61 467 726 486
Email: media@apvma.gov.au

Last updated on 2 November, 2012
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