The Hendra virus, carried by bats and lethal to horses, may have jumped species in Australia. Discovery News reports that a dog has tested positive for Hendra antibodies. The dog lives on a rural property where an outbreak of the virus has been confirmed.
“This is the first time outside of a laboratory that an animal other than a flying fox or a horse, or a human, has been confirmed with Hendra virus infection,” Rick Symons, Queensland state’s Chief Veterinary Officer, told Discovery News.
The Hendra virus is believed to be spread when bat droppings contaminate water, fruit or other food consumed by horses. A total of 14 horses have died or been put down because of the virus since its discovery in 1994. Four of seven humans known to have contracted Hendra virus have died from it. However, no humans have tested positive for the virus in the current outbreak affecting Queensland and New South Wales. This is the first dog known to contract the virus.
“We donít know how the dog contracted the virus or when it happened,” Symons said. “Based on our knowledge to date, it is most likely that the dog caught the virus from an infected horse.”
Although infected and quarantined, the dog reportedly remains in good health.
Photo by Peter J. Markham, Loretto, MN