Signs of Hendra virus infection in horses

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Hendra virus infection in horses can cause a broad range of clinical signs.  Hendra virus infection should be considered in any sick horse where the cause of illness is unknown, and particularly where there is rapid onset of illness, fever, increased heart rate and rapid deterioration.  Although many of the early cases showed respiratory and neurological signs, some more recent cases were characterised simply by inappetance, lethargy and rapid deterioration.

The following signs have been associated with Hendra virus cases, however not all of these will be seen in any one infected horse:

  • rapid onset of illness
  • increased body temperature (fever)
  • increased heart rate
  • discomfort/weight shifting between legs
  • depression
  • inappetance (not eating)
  • rapid deterioration with respiratory and/or neurological signs

Respiratory signs include respiratory distress, increased respiratory rate, nasal discharge (clear, frothy or bloody).  Neurological (nervous) signs may include a wobbly gait, apparent loss of vision, aimless walking in a dazed state, head tilting and walking in a circle, muscle twitching, urinary incontinence and an inability to rise.

If you suspect your horse may be infected with Hendra virus, avoid close contact with the horse and any other horses that may have had contact with it.  Isolate the sick horse (wearing personal protective equipment if possible).  Ensure children cannot have close contact with any potentially infected horses.  Seek veterinary advice (please see link to our current policy on attending unvaccinated horses).

 

Want to know more? Follow these links:

What is Hendra virus? 

How is Hendra virus transmitted?

How to reduce the risk of horses becoming infected

Vaccinating your horse against Hendra virus

Tamborine Mountain, Canungra and Yarrabilba Veterinary Services Hendra Virus Policy