The Hendra virus (HeV) causes a potentially deadly viral disease that can be spread from horses to humans. There are no known treatments for Hendra virus.
Hendra virus has only ever been reported in Australia*. It was first detected in Queensland in 1994, more recently it has been reported further south and west of the Great Dividing Range.1-3
Fruit bats (flying foxes) are the natural hosts of the Hendra virus.4
There are no known treatments for the deadly Hendra virus, but there is now a vaccine available through your veterinarian that can help prevent it. Ask your vet about the Equivac® HeV vaccine for horses.6
What is the Hendra vaccine?
The Hendra vaccine is called Equivac® HeV. It can be used in healthy horses from 4 months of age as an aid in the prevention of disease caused by the Hendra virus.1
How was it developed?
The unprecedented inter-species and geographical spread of the Hendra virus underpinned the need for the development of a safe and effective vaccine.
The vaccine against the Hendra virus was developed through collaboration between the animal health company Zoetis Australia, the national government body for scientific research in Australia CSIRO and the not-for-profit Henry Jackson Foundation.
How frequent is the dosing?
The Hendra vaccine can be given to horses as young as 4 months of age and requires two doses, three to six weeks apart, followed by a booster every six months.
To understand where the Hendra vaccine fits around the other vaccinations your horse requires, the Equine Infectious Diseases Advisory Board have developed an easy to follow vaccination protocol. We recommend you use these guidelines when planning an annual vaccination schedule for your horse.
To calculate your horse's vaccination schedule, try our handy tool here.
What can I expect after my horse is vaccinated?
Protective antibodies against the Hendra virus develop in vaccinated horses approximately three weeks after the second vaccination.
Studies prove that vaccinated horses showed no signs of Hendra virus or disease when challenged with Hendra virus approximately 6 months after their initial vaccination course.
Once your horse is vaccinated, your horse’s details will be entered into the national Hendra vaccination registry, so his/her vaccination status can be verified if needed.
Are there any side effects?
All medicines, including vaccines, may have side effects including reactions such as pain, a rise in temperature or signs of serious allergy (e.g. skin lumps, difficulty breathing, collapse), but these were NOT seen when the Hendra vaccine was tested.
In clinical tests the only occasional side effects seen when the Hendra vaccine was administered were mild transient swellings in the area of the neck where the vaccine was injected. This swelling was more common after the second injection and completely disappeared without the need for any treatment, within a week of the injection.
What are the precautions for use?
The Hendra vaccine is for use as a preventative and NOT as a treatment for Hendra virus disease in horses.
No data exists regarding the safety and efficacy of the Hendra vaccine in pregnant mares or animals intended for breeding; use in these animals must be weighed against the risk of serious illness or death from disease caused by Hendra virus.
Any adverse events should be reported by your veterinarian to Zoetis Technical Services Helpline: 1800 814 883.