A veterinarian, one of four people in Australia that were under close observation due to exposure to a horse with Hendra virus infection, has developed signs of infection.  Dr. Alister Rodgers is now in hospital in critical condition. He had close contact with a sick infected horse three weeks ago – Hendra virus was not considered initially, it was thought that the dying horse had been bitten by a venomous snake. Dr. Rogers didn’t wear gloves or a mask when examining the horse because he had left them in his car.

Dr. Rodgers received experimental treatment for five days to try to prevent or reduce the severity of infection. He had returned home from hospital following the treatment only one day before he became ill. It has now been confirmed that he is infected. Only six people have been previously diagnosed with this rare disease; three have died. There were hopes that all of the exposed individuals would escape unscathed given initial tests showing no sign of infection and the experimental therapy, but it’s clear now that early detection of infection is not easy.

Image: Coloured electron micrograph of Hendra virus (source: www.csiro.au/science/Hendra-Virus.html)

This Worms & Germs blog entry was originally posted on equIDblog on 21-Aug-09.