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Australian vet dies of rare virus from horses

Australian vet dies of rare virus from horses

An Australian veterinarian has died of a rare virus after treating infected horses at his clinic, the Queensland Health Department said Thursday.
Ben Cunneen, in his early 30s, died Wednesday night of Hendra virus disease after several weeks in intensive care.
Cunneen is the third person to die of the virus since it was discovered in 1994.
Two other staff members of the Redlands Veterinary Clinic have been hospitalized with the disease. Five horses have died or have been killed as a result of the outbreak at the clinic, which remains quarantined.
Hendra, named for the Brisbane suburb where it was discovered, is a virus infection with flu-like symptoms that can lead to pneumonia or encephalitis.
It is believed to originate in fruit bats in Australia and mainly infects horses. The few human infections have come from direct exposure to tissues and secretions from infected horses.
Sydney virologist Bill Rawlinson said there is no evidence the virus can spread between humans, and that even for a horse to become infected is very rare.
"Infected horses typically develop a respiratory illness and all three humans who have died have had intense, extremely close contact with these horses and are exposed to the mucous in the same way a parent catches a bug off a sick child they're caring for," Rawlinson said.
They must have had contact with blood or other body fluids to catch the virus, he said.
The Hendra virus was first discovered in a 1994 outbreak that killed a horse trainer and 13 horses. The next year, a farmer assisting in an autopsy of an infected horse became ill and died.


Updated : 2021-07-29 12:51 GMT+08:00