Hendra virus, a member of the family Paramyxoviridae, was first recognized following a devastating outbreak in Queensland, Australia, in 1994. The naturally acquired symptomatic infection, characterized by a rapidly progressive illness involving the respiratory system and/or CNS, has so far only been recognized in horses and humans. However, there is potential for other species to be infected, with significant consequences for animal and human health. Prevention of infection involves efforts to interrupt the bat-to-horse and horse-to-human transmission interfaces. Education and infection-control efforts remain the key to reducing risk of transmission, particularly as no effective antiviral treatment is currently available. The recent release of an equine Hendra G glycoprotein subunit vaccine is an exciting advance that offers the opportunity to curb the recent increase in equine transmission events occurring in endemic coastal regions of Australia and thereby reduce the risk of infection in humans.
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