Animal biosecurity officers test a horse for the Hendra virus as part of the response in 2013.
Animal biosecurity officers test a horse for the Hendra virus as part of the response in 2013.

Government won't make hendra vaccine mandatory

THE State Government has decided against making hendra vaccinations mandatory, but continues to "strongly recommend" the use of vaccine to "reduce the risk of hendra virus in horses".

Cooloola Coast woman Gemma Antrobus was one of the concerned horse owners who sparked the parliamentary inquiry in 2015, following the death of her horse Bella.

Ms Antrobus initially believed Bella had become sick from a reaction to a recent hendra vaccine, but an autopsy later revealed the animal died from cancer.

Ms Antrobus made a submission to the Queensland parliamentary inquiry into the vaccine, and had shared her experience on social media.

The inquiry was chaired by Gladstone MP Glen Butcher, and in October last year, the Agriculture and Environment committee recommended against mandatory hendra vaccines in Queensland.

However, Mr Butcher said: "Vaccinating against the hendra virus remains the most effective option for preventing horse and human deaths from the virus, according to biosecurity, workplace safety and health experts.

"Hendra virus remains a risk for horses wherever there are flying foxes. Horses that get infected generally die.

"If people get the virus from infected horses, they will likely die too, and there is no cure. If people stop vaccinating their horses, we will see deaths from hendra virus in Queensland again."

The final response from the Palaszczuk Government, tabled last week, showed support for most of the recommendations made in in the committee's report.

The response stated the government was not making the vaccine mandatory and was supporting the right and discretion of equestrian event organisers to make their own decisions around conditions of entry.

Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries Bill Byrne said the decision not to change safety regulations was a matter of safety for of those involved in the treatment and care of suspected hendra cases.

"It is the responsibility of all parties in hendra cases to provide and adhere to the correct duty of care for everyone involved, including veterinarians creating a safe workspace," the Minister said.

"As such we will not be proceeding with a recommendation to amend workplace health and safety regulations regarding veterinarians treating suspected cases of the hendra virus.

"The Office of Industrial Relations had rejected the recommendation as not having sufficient regard for the accepted precedents of the statutory duty of care."