IMMUNITY BOOST: Warwick vet Chris Reardon welcomed the extension of the hendra virus vaccine to 12 months after three doses following extensive lab testing (pictured with Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott).
IMMUNITY BOOST: Warwick vet Chris Reardon welcomed the extension of the hendra virus vaccine to 12 months after three doses following extensive lab testing (pictured with Member for Maranoa Bruce Scott). Eloise Handley

Warwick vet pleads 'stop risking our lives'

A MAJOR breakthrough for horse owners and the horse industry was announced last week, with the world's first hendra virus vaccine, Equivac HeV, now approved for annual boosters following administration of the first three doses.

Horses were previously required to have boosters every six months to maintain immunity against the deadly virus but the vaccine can now be given annually, making it more affordable for owners.

Warwick Vet Clinic veterinarian Chris Reardon said the vaccine could now be included in check-ups and hoped more owners would vaccinate their animals due to lowered costs.

"For veterinarians, it will make our workplace safer and we see this vaccine come into line with a lot of other husbandry like routine dental and hoof care once a year," Dr Reardon said.

"I know that cost was one of the concerns for horse owners so it will go along way in reducing that barrier as the vaccine does deliver a significant safety mechanism from protecting vets and horse owners from hendra.

"People should always continue to practise safe hygiene practices, such as wearing gloves and washing hands of course, in addition to vaccination protocol."

CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory researcher Deborah Middleton said the extension of the vaccine to 12 months was supported by field studies in which antibody levels were measured in horses vaccinated at intervals of 12 months.

"When vaccinated horses were challenged with a potent strain of hendra virus 12-months after receiving a six-month booster, these horses were protected from infection," Dr Middleton said.



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