Trainer Amanda Bell with the mare Diamond Supre which mysteriously became ill prompting fears the horse might have contracted deadly Hendra virus.
Trainer Amanda Bell with the mare Diamond Supre which mysteriously became ill prompting fears the horse might have contracted deadly Hendra virus.

Sick horse heartbreak, warning

A DISTRAUGHT Tweed woman wants to warn other horse owners of the heartbreak and frustration they face if their animals become sick during the current Hendra virus scare because of potential delays with blood tests.

On top of that horse trainer and music teacher Amanda Bell says the ‘rumour mill’ in the Tweed ran riot when one of her charges, six-year-old retired racer Diamond Supre, became mysteriously ill with some locals gossiping that a horse on her property had died of the deadly and contagious Hendra virus.

The Eviron resident spent most of last week unable to go near the isolated, sick mare while she waited for blood test results from Sydney.

They eventually gave the all-clear from the disease, which is spread by bats.

“This is going to happen to every person with a sick horse,” Ms Bell warned.

“To watch your horse suffer and not be able to go to it nearly destroyed me.”

Ms Bell said she still did not know what was wrong with her horse, though it possibly had suffered a snake bite. Her veterinarians, who were at risk of the deadly infection and must wear protective suits near sick horses, had been unable to treat it.

Until the blood test result finally came through late Thursday, she had also been unable to take another horse she is training to Murwillumbah race track.

“I was four days on my farm and no one could come here,” she said. “The story got around that one horse had been destroyed and I was under-quarantine.”

Ms Bell said a Queensland vet she uses had told her test results were available in that state within 72 hours but because the horse was in NSW she could not attend.

The vet who attended the horse was unavailable for comment but Ms Bell’s other vet, Claudia Skinner of Southport, said although getting the results took longer than it should have all vets faced increasing difficulties with tests for Hendra virus.

In Queensland she said tests results were usually available from a laboratory at Yeerongpilly in Brisbane within 24 hours but vets there faced a ban from courier companies who refused to handle blood samples from suspected Hendra virus cases.



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