A HENDRA vaccine is ready to ease the scourge of the dreaded equine illness after predictions it will be available by the end of the year.
Warwick Vet Clinic's Chris Reardon said it was good news for the Southern Downs.
"This vaccine, which will protect horses from the deadly virus, has the potential to dramatically reduce the prevalence of this disease," Dr Reardon said.
The vaccine, based on a glycoprotein of the virus cell wall, has been developed by a commercial manufacturer and is the culmination of research work by the CSIRO's Animal Health Laboratory in Geelong and the Henry Jackson Foundation in the United States.
With an active horse community throughout the region, Dr Reardon said, the vaccine would offer local horsemen and women peace of mind.
"A lot of our clients compete in shows and carnivals in areas where there have been outbreaks of hendra virus and we would think that they would be keen to have the added protection of having their horse protected with this vaccine," he said.
Dr Reardon said the vaccine, which would soon be available for use by vets, had been released under a minor-use permit.
"By having the minor-use permit, we are able to get access to this vaccine and start using it much earlier to protect horses and the horse owners from this disease," Dr Reardon said.
"We are required to record all information about the vaccine and identify the horses being vaccinated with the use of microchip identification."
Any healthy horse over four months of age can have the vaccine with two shots three weeks apart required for initial immunisation and vets will need to have specific training.
The Australian Veterinarian Association encouraged all horse owners to consider using this vaccine.
"In line with good biosecurity principles, the AVA encourages hendra vaccines to be a condition for all horses entering pleasure of performance events where close contact with humans is likely," Dr Reardon said.