Removing the bats is the only method of preventing Hendra Virus, a deadly strain of rabies
Equestrian NSW has announced a new policy for managing the deadly Hendra virus.
From January next year, any horse competing at a Hendra Vaccinated Event (or HVE), where the animal is required to stay overnight, must be vaccinated against the disease.
The decision comes after four horses recently died from Hendra on the state’s mid north coast.
Wendy Cohen, chief executive officer of Equestrian NSW, says the organisation has a duty of care to protect not only its members and their horses, but the wider community as well, and overnight events pose the highest risk when it comes to contracting the disease.
“The horses that have the potential to be in close contact with each other for a duration of time are the horses in the high risk category. Therefore we have decided that a Hendra Vaccinated Event would be those where horses are staying overnight, in yards or in stables, next to each other.
“We have an event running somewhere in the state pretty much every weekend.
“The vast majority of those would have the potential for horses to stay overnight and at any one event we might have 400 horses attending.
“So every weekend we have an occupational health and safety issue that is facing our event organisers and our members.
“We recognise that there is a financial impost on our members to maintain the health of their horses and that this new policy may impact on the number of people who can attend these events.
“However, when you consider the consequences of not having a policy in place to protect human equine health, we believe that those consequences far outweigh the potential impact that it would have on entry numbers.
“There might be an initial drop off of entry numbers for these events, but I think what you’ll find, in the long term, will be the reverse.
“I think the safety and security that’s offered through this policy will actually encourage more participation.”