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Some Risk Perspective
Some Risk Perspective
The Hendra Virus In Australia
The Hendra Virus In Australia

The seven confirmed human cases all became infected following high-level exposures to respiratory secretions and/or blood of a horse infected with Hendra virus, following activities such as assisting with post mortem examination of a dead horse without adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), performing certain veterinary procedures or having extensive exposure to respiratory secretions without adequate PPE. Other people have reported similar contact with infected horses but have remained well and their blood tests have shown no evidence of infection. No one with a lower level exposure (e.g. grooming, feeding, patting) has ever developed Hendra virus infection or shown evidence of infection in blood tests.



 June 18, 2019

“The numbers of humans that became infected were extremely low, it’s a horrible disease, but the rates are extremely low, especially if you take the basic precautions,”

Dr David Westcott, a bat ecologist with the CSIRO agrees the risk of contracting Hendra is extremely low, with simple precautions lowering risk further and was keen to provide context and statistics for people to better understand the risk.

To put the risk in perspective Dr Westcott usually draws attention to the following:

In the past 10 years there have been four human deaths in Queensland;

Since 1994 when Hendra was identified several hundred people have been exposed to Hendra, seven have been infected and four have died;

No one with a low level of exposure has developed the infection;

Everyone who became infected did so after very high levels of exposures to respiratory secretions and or blood of a horse;

If you ride horses you are eight times more likely to die falling off your horse.

Animal Health Australia cautions that due to Hendra being transmitted by droplet, there is no safe exposure level to the virus and the most stringent infection control practices must be adhered to when interacting with an animal which is suspected to have the virus.

“Hendra has to survive in the outside environment and Hendra doesn’t do very well in hot, dry conditions or cold and dry conditions, it means a particular range of conditions you get on the coast compared to inland, now that doesn’t mean you can’t get those conditions inland but they are not as prevalent,” Dr Westcott said.

“The right conditions can occur in all kinds of places at all different times, so it is highly variable and subject to change,” he said.




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