Hendra virus (HeV) is a rare, zoonotic virus (a virus transmitted to humans from animals). It is spread by its natural host – fruit bats, and can then be passed from sick/infected horses to humans. It can cause severe disease which affects the lungs and brain of horses and humans. There is no vaccine for Hendra virus and without prompt treatment, the virus is often fatal.
Take care when handling sick horses. Always wear gloves, masks and protective glasses. Vets should take particular care during post mortems. Reduce the risk of transmission from bats to horse by moving feed and water troughs away from areas where fruit bats feed or roost.
Symptoms of HeV in humans may range from flu-like illness to fatal respiratory and neurological disease (WHO, 2020).
References used for this topic page
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
Potentially deadly Hendra virus spreads further south in New South Wales
Biosecurity Queensland confirms Hendra Virus case – 20 May 2010
Hendra virus information for industry and horse owners
Better Health Channel
Australian Veterinary Association
Hendra virus infection for healthcare workers [PDF]
Victorian Health Department
NSW Health Department
Hendra virus monitoring
Research & reviews:
The dynamic landscape of bat borne zoonotic viruses in Australia (2020)
Medical Journal of Australia
Hendra virus infection in a veterinarian
Queensland Primary Industries and Fisheries
Hendra virus research
World Health Organization (WHO)
Hendra virus (HeV) infection
Last updated: 4th May, 2020