Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Malaysia bans Australian horses

Malaysia has banned the import of horses from Australia for its racing industry following the latest outbreak of the deadly Hendra virus.

Veterinary department deputy director-general Ibrahim Che' Embong told The Star newspaper the ban was a precautionary move and would be rescinded once Australian authorities gave the clearance.

A department official confirmed his comments Wednesday.

Twelve horses infected with Hendra have died or been put down since June 20, eight in Queensland and four in NSW.

More than 30 people are believed to have been exposed to Hendra-infected horses in Queensland and NSW. All are now undergoing tests.

Dozens of horses on affected properties are also being tested.

Bats are believed to transmit the virus through bodily secretions to horses, which can in turn pass on the infection to humans.

Of the seven people who have contracted Hendra since it was discovered in Queensland in 1994, four have died.

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