Hendra virus (HeV) is a kind of virus that mostly infects fruit bats or flying foxes which can be transferred on to horses. The infection has hardly been passed onto people who have been in close contact with infected animals mainly horse.
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What is Hendra Virus?
The natural host for the Hendra virus is flying fox. On rare seasons, Hendra virus can pass from flying foxes to horses, causing severe diseases, usually resulting in death.
Hendra virus is a type of zoonotic disease (a disease which can be transmitted from horses to humans during close contact with an infected horse).
The virus is a notifiable disease in Australia. However, the death rate related to infection is very high – about 50% in humans and more than 70% in horses.
Some Facts Related to Hendra Virus:
- The HeV infects large fruit bats or flying foxes.
- Hardly the virus can spread from flying foxes to horses and horses to humans. A small number of people work very close or have close contact with infected horses can easily develop Hendra virus infection.
- There is no proof of that the virus can occur naturally in any other species.
- The HeV was discovered following an outbreak in the suburb of Hendra, Brisbane in the year 1994.
How Can You Find Out the Signs and Symptoms of Hendra Virus?
There are several signs and symptoms in humans of the HeV including;
- A headache
- A cough
- A sore throat
Complications like meningitis (inflammation of the lining of the spinal cord and the brain) and pneumonia (inflammation or lung infection), or encephalitis (inflammation of the brain) may develop due to the virus.
In meningitis and encephalitis, symptoms may involve a headache, drowsiness or fever leading to coma and death.
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What are the Treatments of Hendra Virus?
There is no specific treatment for HeV infection.
Treatment options are mainly to relieve symptoms and reduce complications from the disease.
People who are suspected to have HeV infection or are in close contact with animals like horses that might be caught the infection and should be reviewed by an infectious diseases specialist.
What are the Preventions from Hendra Virus?
- The vaccine available for the virus infection for humans but the most important way to prevent infection is good hygiene practices while handling horses.
- Eliminate people with Hendra virus infection from childcare, school, preschool, and work until well.
- Avoid kissing a horse on the muzzle.
- Avoid placing water or animal feed under or near a flowering or fruiting tree, to avoid the attraction of flying foxes.
- Always wash hands before and after handling horses.
- Never forget to do waterproof dressing on wounds or cuts before touching horses. If body fluids secrets from the horse come into contact with the broken skin or mucous membranes, thoroughly wash the area with soap and water.
- Do not contact or work near a sick horse. If you can not avoid a contact with the sick horse then always wear full protective personal clothing like gloves, masks, goggles, long sleeves and long trousers.
- Never forget to take shower and changing infected clothes after handling a sick horse.
- Always contact your veterinarian if you suspect your that your horse might be infected with the virus.
- Always avoid blood donation if you suspect or exposed to the virus until you are completely fine.
Hendra virus infection or HeV infection is a rare and emerging zoonosis (zoonotic disease) that causes severe and fatal disease in both infected horses and humans.
The Hendra virus infection has been developed for horses which is available since November 2012 (according to World Health Organization). The best way to avoid the infection is taking precautions.
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