Sick local horse clear of Hendra

A HORSE on a Riordanvale property suspected on the weekend of having Hendra virus has been cleared of the disease.

Mackay veterinary surgeon, Bruce Howlett of Stabler and Howlett, visited the property on Saturday morning after the horse was suffering from twitching muscles.

Dr Howlett confirmed on Tuesday that he had “absolutely ruled out” the possibility of Hendra.

He said the owners of the horse had taken all the right precautions as the animal's symptoms could have been those associated with the deadly virus.

He said all horse owners with concerns about a horse should have minimal contact with the animal and call a vet equipped and prepared to deal with the horse.

Dr Howlett said his surgery carries a Hendra kit with protective material so the vets can examine the horse and collect samples.

He said that while it was very distressing for owners to see their horses sick, it was very important that they minimised contact and took necessary precautions.

“It really concerns me that some people with sick horses cradle the horse's head in their arms,” he said.

Queensland vet Ben Cunneen died in 2008, aged 33, after being infected by Hendra virus.

The 2008 outbreak claimed the lives of many horses, including two on a property south of Proserpine.

Hendra was first identified in the Brisbane suburb of Hendra in 1994 after 13 horses died.

More than 40 horses have died since the disease was first identified.

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