Being an equine vet in some parts of Australia (namely Queensland) is scary… to the point that people are leaving equine practice or refusing to treat certain cases. That’s because of Hendra virus, a bat-associated virus that infects horses and which can spill over into people. It hasn’t infected many people, but it is most often fatal, and it can be transmitted through regular kinds of occupational exposures when working with horses.
This disease is a good example of what can be done with vaccination. Even though it’s a small market, being a disease confined to one region of one country, a vaccine was developed and regulatory hurdles were lowered to get it to market as quickly as possible. That likely saved horses lives, and probably some human lives too in the process.
Yet, not everyone is as happy about the situation. Despite a disease that is among the most deadly in terms of the percentage of infected people who die, there’s an anti-vax movement related to Hendra vaccine for horses. I’ll skip the synopsis, but click here to read the whole story about the situation on TheAtlantic.com. It’s worth a read, regardless of whether you’re in Queensland or have horses.
Image: Flying foxes are a type of large fruit bat found in Australia that can carry Henra virus and transmit it to horses.