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Milestone for Hendra virus research 31 May 2016

Over three years of coordinated and ground breaking Hendra virus research will be shared at conference in Brisbane tomorrow.

More than 140 delegates from across Australia will share their findings at the concluding symposium for the National Hendra Virus Research Program.

The Rural Industries Research and Development Corporation’s (RIRDC) Managing Director, John Harvey said the Corporation had played a key role in coordinating and managing the eight horse-related research projects carried out as part of the Program.

“RIRDC has been a lead player in successfully coordinating this multi-jurisdiction research program and the outcomes have increased our knowledge on how Hendra virus is spread and the impacts the disease has on both horses and humans,” Mr Harvey said.

A total of 20 projects were funded under the National Hendra Virus Research Program. Along with the eight RIRDC-managed projects were eight projects managed by the National Health and Medical Research Council,  and another four managed by the Queensland and New South Wales State Governments.

National Hendra Virus Research Program Steering Committee Chair Dr Jim Thompson said the research program had significantly boosted our understanding of Hendra virus.

“Hendra virus has had devastating impacts here in Australia including four human and seventy-seven horse deaths since it was first identified in 1994.

“Following the unprecedented number of Hendra virus incidents in 2011, the Commonwealth, Queensland and New South Wales governments contributed a total of $12 million to accelerate our understanding of Hendra virus.

“The research specifically targeted key areas that have enabled us to develop strategies to minimise the impacts of Hendra virus.

“We now better understand how and where Hendra virus exists in bat populations and how the virus is transmitted between bats, horses, humans and other animals.

“We have a better understanding of the nature and structure of the virus that enabled a vaccine to be developed that prevents horses being infected with Hendra virus.

“Most importantly we now understand how people can best protect themselves and their horses from Hendra virus.

“While our understanding is not complete, horse owners are already using the information that has come out of the program to make informed decisions about their horses and their own safety when it comes to Hendra virus.

The National Hendra Virus Research Program symposium will showcase the major outcomes from each research project funded under the program. 

For more information on Hendra virus and the National Hendra Virus Research Program visit www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au