Mullumbimby horse owner Amanda Mackinnon has cut down the palm and fruit trees on her property to eliminate bat roosting sites.
Mullumbimby horse owner Amanda Mackinnon has cut down the palm and fruit trees on her property to eliminate bat roosting sites. Kate O'Neill

Cats now tested for Hendra

TESTS are being carried out on several people, horses and other animals following the fifth death of a horse from the Hendra virus in NSW, this time at Mullumbimby.

The horse was found dead in a paddock on Sunday morning.

A NSW health spokesman said three people had been exposed to the virus in the most recent incident.

“Despite the negligible exposure, the three people are having blood tests,” he said.

“Fifteen (other) people previously identified as having potential contacts to the previous infected horses in NSW are now past the incubation period.

“Six people from this group have had precautionary blood tests to check for unrecognised infection.”

Four other horses along with three cats and two dogs on the property will be assessed on the quarantined property.

It brings the Hendra deaths on the North Coast to five. It also follows the discovery this week of a dog with the virus near Beaudesert.

NSW Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth said the Mullumbimby property had been quarantined and movement restrictions were in place for all horses and companion animals, including cats and dogs.

“There were eight other horses on the quarantined property of which four are considered at risk,” he said.

“A horse in a separate paddock is showing signs of illness but has initially tested negative for Hendra. The others are currently showing no signs of illness.”

As a precautionary measure, The Mullumbimby Showground has been closed to all animals until further notice.

Flying foxes in fig trees were again likely to have been the source of infection, Mr Roth said

As news of the death spread throughout Mullumbimby, horse owners said they were taking every precaution to avoid the virus, and called for more preventative measures, such as testing of local bat colonies.

Mullumbimby Creek horse trainer Amanda Mackinnon says she has cut down every fruit tree on her property as a result of the recent Hendra outbreak.

She says a case of Hendra on her property would destroy her business and reputation and wants to see more action on bat control.

“If your horse gets Hendra, it dies, you don’t get a say. If a bat has Hendra, why can’t we put it down?” she said.



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