Hendra virus infects dogs, and potentially cats
Horse owners are vigilantly protecting their horses from the Hendra virus, but did you know that your dog can become ill from it too? Last year a dog in Queensland was put down after becoming infected with the virus, and this month a dog in New South Wales tested positive for the virus. “It is most likely that the dog caught the virus from (an) infected horse following close contact,” New South Wales Chief Veterinary Officer Ian Roth said. There are now concerned that cats could theoretically catch the virus too as, until recently, it had not happened in dogs either.
The Hendra virus is carried by flying foxes, and is passed on to horses when they accidentally ingest the flying foxes’ droppings and other bodily fluids. When horses become infected, the virus has been known to be passed on to humans and, in recent years, dogs as well. The Hendra virus may cause the development of diseases, which in many cases have been fatal.
Veterinarians are strongly urging horse owners to vaccinate their horses against the Hendra virus to increase protection for not only their horses but also dogs and cats. As an extra precaution, dog and cat owners are encouraged to keep their pets away from horses, and if possible, areas that contain horses and flying foxes.
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