What is Hendra virus?

A zoonotic disease, which means it can transfer from animals to people.It occurs in flying fox populations, and it’s thought to be transferred to horses through contaminated urine, faeces or foetal fluids.

Humans become infected through close contact with infected horses. There’s been no evidence of direct infection from flying foxes to humans or of human-to-human infection. Horses can infect other horses as well as humans.

Hendra virus symptoms in horses

Hendra virus can cause a range of symptoms in horses. Usually there is a sudden fever and either respiratory or neurological illness and rapid death. In some cases the onset of illness is gradual.

Other symptoms can include:

  • laboured breathing
  • frothy and/or blood stained nasal discharge a
  • a temperature (usually but not always higher than 40°C)
  • Neurological changes, including tilting of the head, loss of vision, abnormal muscle twitching, weakness and loss of balance
  • Colic like discomfort.

Most cases in horses are fatal but occasionally a horse will survive the infection.


Reducing Hendra risk 

The Australian Veterinary Association believes that all horses should be vaccinated against Hendra virus.

There are also a number of strategies that can be employed by horse owners to reduce the transmission of the virus.

  • Place all feed and water containers under cover.
  • Try to bring horses into covered enclosures or enclosed paddocks with no trees at night to reduce potential contact with flying fox colonies.
  • Remove horses from paddocks where trees attract flying foxes or fence off trees to prevent horses grazing underneath.
  • Seek veterinary advice before bringing any sick horses on to your property.
  • If you have a horse that you suspect of having Hendra, do not move any other horse off the property until given the all clear by the proper authorities.
  • Keep any sick horses isolated from people and other animals.
  • Plan a quarantine area on your property where sick horses can be isolated.
  • Remember to thoroughly wash your hands after and between handling individual horses to prevent the potential spread of Hendra virus infection.

Hendra virus Vaccine|Equivac HeV

Equivac® HeV is for the immunisation of horses against Hendra virus.

Advantage of using Equivac® HeV?

Since there are no known treatments for the disease, vaccination is the single most effective way to reduce the risk of the virus transferring from bats to horses and from horses to humans.

When do I use Equivac® HeV? 

Equivac® HeV can be given to horses as young as 4 months of age. It requires two doses, three to six weeks apart, followed by a booster every twelve months.