Horse owners refuse to vaccinate against Hendra

Tweed Pony Club president Lindy Smith with Elle the horse.
Tweed Pony Club president Lindy Smith with Elle the horse. Blainey Woodham

TWEED horse owners are not going to vaccinate their horses against Hendra because of cost and lack of testing, despite warnings from the Department of Primary Industries (DPI).

"Members were extremely taken back by the cost of it," Tweed Heads Pony Club president Lindy Smith said.

"For a family with two or three horses it's a lot of money."

The club worked out each horse would cost $300 to vaccinate if they did it in a group, individually approaching a vet it would be much more.

It is still in the experimental stages...There are just still a lot of questions that need answering.

Ms Smith said another concern was what seemed to be the "minimal testing."

"I understand there had to be a booster down the track," she said.

"But it wasn't exactly stated when...it's still in the experimental stages.

"There are just still a lot of questions that need answering."

The Pony Club Association of NSW has not made the vaccination mandatory and either had the Tweed Heads Pony Club, despite warnings from the DPI.

"Vaccination is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of Hendra virus infection in horses," NSW deputy chief vet officer Therese Wright said.

"Vaccinating horses is an important measure to protect most horses and humans from the Hendra virus.

"Horse owners should discuss the use of the Hendra vaccine with their private veterinarian."

Ms Wright said the uptake of the vaccination had been slow with only 3,000 horses in NSW fully vaccinated.

No horses at the pony club had been vaccinated.

The vet said it might increase now that Hendra virus was confirmed to have caused the death of a horse west of Macksville.

Ms Smith said the horses kept at the pony club were sheltered undercover at night as extra protection from bats.

The pony club president she was well aware of the virus and its devastating effects, but was addiment not to vaccinate until more testing had been done and complications were at a minimum.



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