Hendra Virus & Vaccination
Hendra Virus is close to being the most lethal virus on our planet. The Hendra Virus has a 70% fatality rate for humans and an even higher fatality rate for horses. For an infected horse the fatality rate is 100% that is, if they do not die from the infection, the Government requires euthanasia to prevent the spread to humans and other animals.
There are no treatment options for infection of Hendra Virus. The only reliable prevention is vaccination.
1) Is the vaccine safe?
The vaccine is called a “sub- unit” vaccine. This means that it only contains a small replicated part of the Hendra virus, a protein copied from the virus surface. As there is no complete, actual Hendra virus in the vaccine, it cannot cause disease in your horse, you or any other animal. It does however confer excellent immunity to properly vaccinated horses.
It must be administered by a vet under strict guidelines by the AVPMA.
Sufficient testing has been done to ensure the vaccine is safe and effective. Horses require annual vaccination to maintain their immunity after the initial course of injections.
The vaccine has been tested on breeding animals – mares and stallions. It has been found to be safe in breeding mares however current recommendations are to avoid vaccination in the first 45 days of pregnancy and the last 2 weeks prior to foaling.
2) What is the program?
Two vaccinations are given exactly 21 to 42 days apart. The horse must be microchipped. This can be done at the same time if not already done. A 6 month booster is then required, followed by annual boosters for ongoing protection. Our vets can perform a wellness check at the same time as the annual booster is administered.
3) Are there any side effects:
Side effects from the vaccine are rare and usually mild. Possible side effects can include transient swelling at the injection site, reduction in appetite and energy levels for up to 24 hours, and less commonly muscle stiffness or soreness. If these side effects occur they can be easily treated by your veterinarian.