The Australian Animal Health Laboratory reported the first positive test in a dog for Hendra virus from natural exposure. The dog had no reported illness but likely contracted the infection from one of three horses on the same property that died from Hendra between June and July.
Several Queensland and New South Wales properties are under quarantine due to the equine Hendra virus infection. Hendra is in the Paramyxoviridae family, which was first isolated in 1994 during an outbreak of respiratory and neurologic disease in horses and humans in Hendra, Australia. Human and equine infections are spillover events from the natural hosts for the virus, flying foxes.
All dogs are tested when exposure to infected horses is suspected. National policy is that Hendra-infected domestic animals are euthanized because of public health risk.
The route of infection between bats and horses is believed to be via bat bodily fluids, including saliva, urine and birthing fluids contaminating horse feed or water. The virus rarely spreads between horses. There is no evidence of the virus being transmitted directly from flying foxes, also known as fruit bats, to humans.
Quarantine and disinfection is the only preventive measures, as no vaccine or treatment is available, according to Dr. Andy Carroll, chief veterinary officer of the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australian government, Canberra, Australia.