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QLD Government to launch Hendra Inquiry -

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ELEANOR HALL: The Queensland Government has announced an independent review of the Department of
Primary Industry's handling of the latest outbreak of Hendra Virus. The disease claimed the life of
33 year-old Brisbane vet, Ben Cunneen on Wednesday night.

But the Veterinary industry in Queensland is not optimistic that much will be achieved from the
inquiry. As Nicole Butler reports from Brisbane.

NICOLE BUTLER: Hendra Virus has now killed three of the six people infected since it was first
identified in 1994. 33-year-old vet Ben Cunneen died on Wednesday night - around five weeks after
coming into contact with sick horses at a clinic on Brisbane's Bayside.

The State Government has offered its condolences to Mr Cunneen's family. And in a written statement
Primary Industries Minister Tim Mulherin has called for an independent review of the DPI's handling
of the outbreak.

TIM MULHERIN: Queenslanders have expressed their concern about this virus and that's why I've asked
the DPI to undertake an independent review of their emergency response in this case as part of
Biosecurity Queensland's normal best practice.

NICOLE BUTLER: President of the Australian Veterinary Association Mark Lawrie says he doubts a
government inquiry will achieve much. He says so many stakeholders have already launched their own

MARK LAWRIE: The health bodies, the veterinary bodies, public health, AQUIS, Animal Health
Australia. There are so many groups that look and analyse when these sorts of things happen that we
believe that what will come out of those things will be good direction for us.

NICOLE BUTLER: It's known that Hendra Virus is spread by fruit bats. But what's not known is
whether the potentially deadly disease has mutated.

In this latest case it has been revealed that vets are struggling to detect Hendra, because the
early signs of the disease have changed. And delayed diagnoses are putting people at greater risk.
Mr Lawrie says more research into the rare virus is urgently needed.

MARK LAWRIE: I think undoubtedly and that doesn't mean that this is the last we are going to see of
Hendra and in fact the future would seem to indicate worldwide that there is going to be more
diseases like Hendra that come from wild animals into domestic animals and then spread to humans
and we are seeing lots of some planning for that with Avian Influenza, Ebola Virus, HIV itself was
such a type of condition.

NICOLE BUTLER: As well as research and analysis the AVA president says a national approach is
needed to combat Hendra Virus.

MARK LAWRIE: We're seeing really good work happening there with health and biosecurity there in
Queensland. But we probably need to look at that more across the whole national framework, and get
that co-ordination happening at a national level and not just for things that are current but into
the future.

NICOLE BUTLER: The Queensland Government says it has written to the Federal Primary Industries
Minister Tony Burke about accelerating research into Hendra Virus.

It says it's called on Mr Burke to establish a high level working group to look at ways of reducing
the risk of transmission to humans.

ELEANOR HALL: And that report by Nicole Butler.