Protect your horses and our people from the Hendra virus

24 August 2023

The Queensland Racing Integrity Commission is calling on racing participants to vaccinate their horses against the Hendra virus for the sake of the industry.

Hendra virus is found in flying foxes, who can transmit the virus to horses, who can then pass the virus onto humans. It can cause severe disease in horses and people and has a high mortality rate.

QRIC Chief Thoroughbred Steward Josh Adams said vaccination was incredibly important for the protection of everyone who works in the racing industry.

“We must do everything we can to protect those of us who are working closely with horses including stable staff, barrier attendants and veterinarians,” he said.

“In horses, there is usually a rapid onset of illness, fever, increased heart rate and rapid deterioration with respiratory and/or neurological (nervous system) signs.

“Sadly most horses die within 2-3 days of showing the first signs of disease.”

In humans, Hendra can cause fever, coughing, sore throat, headache and tiredness. Meningitis or inflammation of the brain can develop, causing headache, high fever and drowsiness, and sometimes convulsions, coma and death.

“Mr Adams said the most effective thing you can do to protect your horse and people working closely with horses in the industry is to vaccinate your horses against the virus.

“The highly effective vaccine will not affect your horse’s performance but will provide excellent protection from this deadly disease, “ he said.

“You can also reduce the risk, through employing good biosecurity and personal hygiene practices when handling horses to avoid contracting the virus. 

“Infected horses can pass Hendra virus on to other horses or people several days before they show any sign of having contracted the virus.

“The more severe the disease in the horse, the more virus they shed into their environment.

“You can also reduce exposure to flying foxes and their excretions by keeping horses away from trees that flying foxes roost or feed in.”

Take care to protect the horse’s feed and water from flying fox excretions too.

More information is available on the QRICwebsite or contact