There are three important reasons to vaccinate your horse against Hendra virus.
First, vaccination reduces the risk of your horse contracting Hendra virus (HeV), a serious and life-threatening disease. Unvaccinated horses with the disease either suffer a debilitating and distressing death or if diagnosed, are euthanased. Vaccination helps to provide some protection for your horse.
Second, vaccination aids in the prevention of clinical symptoms of Hendra virus and this reduces risk of the virus being transmitted to humans and causing a serious condition which is fatal about 50% of cases. Although humans are unable to contract the virus directly from flying foxes, they are able to contract it through close contact with infected horses. Vaccinating your horse helps to keep your family, friends and colleagues safe.
Third, the high risk of infection combined with the workplace health and safety responsibilities placed on veterinarians visiting properties, have led many veterinarians to refuse to visit properties in known Hendra infected areas to examine sick, unvaccinated horses. Many veterinarians will not treat an unvaccinated horse until blood has been tested to exclude the presence of Hendra disease. The results of the exclusion test may not be available for 24-48 hours and in that time the untreated horse may deteriorate and suffer unalleviated symptoms. Vaccination allows for prompt treatment of sick horses.
The vaccination protocol involves an initial two doses, 21-42 days apart, a third vaccination at 6 months and then an annual booster. All horses who are vaccinated must be microchipped with vaccination details being entered onto a national registry.
While the RSPCA cannot make any claims regarding the risk or efficacy of the Hendra Vaccine, we still strongly support the vaccination of all horses in areas at risk of Hendra disease, as this offers the best chance of protection.
The information we provide here is general in nature, so you’re encouraged to contact your veterinary professional who will be able to assess your individual needs.
To date, the disease has been found on properties from far north Queensland to the mid-north coastal region of New South Wales. Areas where flying foxes are active are considered high risk.
The Equivac HEV Hendra Virus Vaccine is registered by the APVMA (Approval: 68996). The product details can be checked on the APVMA product portal https://portal.apvma.gov.au/pubcris or alternatively the manufacturer.
All persons interacting with horses should take steps to protect themselves from the potential risk of coming into contact with the Hendra virus.
For the latest information on Hendra virus, the vaccine and advice on these protective steps please visit:
- Biosecurity Queensland:
- New South Wales Department of Primary Industry: