First case of Hendra in dog detected in Australia

14:51, July 26, 2011      

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Biosecurity Queensland in Australia confirmed on Tuesday a dog from a property near Beaudesert, in southeast Queensland, had been detected with the Hendra virus.

The property was already under quarantine due to a recent Hendra outbreak.

Biosecurity Queensland Chief Veterinary Officer Rick Symons said it was the first time outside of a laboratory that an animal other than a flying fox, horse or human, had been confirmed with the virus.

"We don't know how the dog contracted the virus or when it happened," he said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Based on our knowledge to date, it is most likely that the dog caught the virus from an infected horse."

The dog returned two negative results for the virus but a different type of test conducted at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory in Victoria had confirmed the presence of Hendra antibodies.

"This means that at some point the dog has been exposed to the virus but to our knowledge has shown no signs of illness," Symons said.

The case has raised many questions for biosecurity and health officials and researchers.

Authorities will now recommend that people keep dogs and cats away from sick horses to reduce the risk of such an infection.

The remaining horses and dogs on this property are still being monitored daily and show no signs of illness.

Tests on cats and dogs on 11 properties currently under quarantine in Queensland have turned up no other positive results.

Queensland's chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said Queensland Health would speak with the property owners to see who may have had contact with the infected dog.

Queensland and New South Wales officials have been fighting a spate of outbreaks since June 20.

There have been 14 horses infected with Hendra that have died or been put down.

Hendra is usually passed from bats to horses, and then to humans.

Of the seven people who have had Hendra since it was detected in 1994, four have died.

Source: Xinhua
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