VETERINARIANS are urging horse owners within flood-affected regions to take preventive measures against the deadly hendra virus because of a potential for increased risk of outbreaks following the recent floods.
In 2011, the same year as the last Queensland floods, records show the highest number of hendra cases ever reported.
Flying foxes are more likely to excrete hendra virus if they are stressed, and the loss of food due to the floods can increase stress levels, resulting in a higher risk of viral shedding.
The migration of stressed bats to non-flood-affected regions could also result in the spread of the virus.
"It is vital that veterinarians and those who work with horses take precautions, such as wearing protective clothing and practising good hygiene, to safeguard against infection," Australian Veterinary Association president Dr Ben Gardiner said.
"The recently released hendra horse vaccine is also a significant step toward breaking the cycle of Hendra virus transmission, as it can stop the horse from both developing the disease and passing it on."
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