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Coalition to fund Hendra virus protection kits for vets and assistants.



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Bruce Scott, MP  Federal Member for Maranoa 

 

Coalition to fund Hendra virus protection kits for vets and assistants 17-August-2010 Source: Bruce Scott, MP -

An elected Liberal-National Coalition Government would fund disposable personal protective equipment (PPE) kit for veterinarians and staff at risk of exposure to Hendra virus infection.

Hendra virus causes a highly-fatal disease in humans and horses and is transmitted to horses by contaminated excreta from bats and from horses to humans through infected tissues and secretions.

The impact of Hendra virus has been most tragically felt in Queensland with 14 known outbreaks of Hendra virus in horses since 1994, with 7 people infected and resulting in 4 deaths.

“This Coalition initiative recognises the dangers posed by Hendra Virus and that those most at risk are veterinarians, their staff and those in close contact with horses. In total, 5 members of the veterinary community have contracted Hendra, of which 3 have tragically resulted in death,” Mr Scott said.

“Vets and their assistants are our first line of defence in identifying threats to the community from diseases that can be transferred from animals to humans.

“To date the disease has only affected people and horses in Queensland but this is not a disease that is limited to state borders and there is a real risk of the disease appearing in NSW, Victoria and Northern Australia,” Mr Scott said.

“That is why we would make the fight against Hendra Virus a national fight. A Coalition Government will support efforts to find a vaccine for this deadly disease but in the meantime, this is an important interim measure to help protect vets and their assistants and give some peace of mind to their families,” he said.

Under the scheme, each equine veterinarian who applies will be provided with 3 personal protective kits which would be kept in their vehicle. One would be used by the veterinarian and the others by assisting staff as required.

Through this initiative the Liberal-National Coalition aims to focus attention on the need for vigilance by anyone handling horses if they show signs of high temperature, respiratory or neurological disease.

This initiative has the support of the Australian Veterinary Association and delivery of this program will be conducted in consultation with the Equine Veterinarians Australia, a special interest group within the Australian Veterinary Association.