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Hendra virus

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

More information:

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)
Potentially deadly Hendra virus spreads further south in New South Wales

Queensland Government
Biosecurity Queensland confirms Hendra Virus case – 20 May 2010

Queensland Government
Hendra virus information for industry and horse owners

Better Health Channel
Hendra Virus

Australian Veterinary Association
Hendra Virus

Clinical care:

CSIRO
Hendra virus

Queensland Health
Hendra virus infection for healthcare workers [PDF]

Victorian Health Department
Hendra virus

NSW Health Department
Hendra virus monitoring

Research & reviews:

Microbiology Australia
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

Fast facts:

Hendra virus

  • Hendra virus can be fatal
  • Hendra virus can be transmitted from horses to people
  • Hendra virus is spread by fruit bats

Last updated: 4th May, 2020