Hendra virus outbreak in Australia Affecting Human Lives: a ‘One Health in Action’ example In response to several News reports including Australia.To News on May 21, 2010 entitled “New research sheds light on Hendra virus” and a ProMED-mail article posted on the One Health Initiative website’s ProMED page May 24, 2010 entitled “HENDRA VIRUS - AUSTRALIA (04): (QUEENSLAND), HUMAN EXPOSURE” the One Health Initiative website requested from veterinarian Dr. Hume Field an updated News report. Dr. Field is a prominent and valued One Health supporter/advocate living and working in Australia. The following was graciously provided on May 30, 2010: Queensland Government Department of Employment, Economic Development and Innovation May 2010 Hendra virus Hume Field, BVSc, MSc, PhD, MACVS Principal Veterinary Epidemiologist (Emerging Diseases), Biosecurity Queensland Hendra virus was first described in September 1994, in a novel disease outbreak in horses in Australia. Twenty horses and two humans were infected on that occasion, resulting in the death of 13 horses and one human. A further thirteen incidents (some single-horse events, some multiple-horse events) have been identified to date, resulting in more than 40 confirmed equine cases and seven human cases (four of them fatal). Fruit bats of the genus Pteropus (colloquially known as flying foxes) are the natural host of the virus. The most recent incident was confirmed on 20 May 2010, when Biosecurity Queensland confirmed a positive Hendra virus PCR result for a horse on a property in Tewantin, in south-east Queensland, Australia. The horse was humanely euthanized after a rapid clinical progression. A second (in-contact) horse on the property was clinically well and negative for Hendra virus in the first round of testing. The second horse will remain under quarantine until samples collected a minimum of two incubation periods after the last exposure opportunity are negative to all tests. Animal health (Biosecurity Queensland) and public health (Queensland Health) agencies are responding jointly to the incident, and will continue to work with the horse owners, the attending veterinarian and local community. The Biosecurity Queensland Emerging Diseases Research Group, led by veterinary epidemiologist Dr. Hume Field, is using infra-red cameras to record nocturnal interactions and behaviour in horses, bats and other nocturnal wildlife to better understand how Hendra virus is transmitted to horses. The group is also collecting pooled urine samples from fruit bat colonies in the vicinity as part of ongoing investigations into Hendra virus infection dynamics in bats. There have been calls from individuals and groups in the community for culling of bats. The Biosecurity Queensland perspective is that culling is scientifically flawed and not the answer to the Hendra virus problem. Fruit bats are an important part of the natural system, promoting biodiversity and supporting the timber industry and nature-based recreation and tourism. Beyond this, it’s simply not feasible to cull bats – they are nomadic animals whose movements are driven by food availability – if you cull one location, animals will move in from another location to utilise the food resources. Indeed, culling is likely to be counter-productive and exacerbate virus excretion, firstly by further stressing bat populations, and secondly, the resultant ‘sink’ effect will result in increased population flux. Most importantly, culling is just not necessary; there are effective measures that people can take to mitigate the risks of infection transmission from bats to horses, and from horses to humans. The website www.biosecurity.qld.gov.au has up to date information on Hendra virus, including the latest version of the Guidelines for veterinarians handling potential Hendra virus infection in horses.