Australia uses experimental drug to halt virus spread
Saturday 05 June 2010
An experimental drug so far only tested on animals has been given to an Australian woman and child in an effort to prevent an outbreak of a potentially deadly virus, health officials said Tuesday.
The health department in the northeastern state of Queensland said the pair were given the treatment, which has been tested on ferrets, to protect against the Hendra virus, which is spread to humans from horses.
"Queensland Health offered the mother and daughter preventative therapy treatment which is still under development," a spokesman said.
The Hendra virus, which has killed four people in Australia since is was first documented in 1994, is understood to be carried by fruit bats and spread via their urine, other bodily fluids and droppings.
The bats, which have no symptoms of the disease, then pass the infection to horses, possibly via half-chewed fruit or other water or food they contaminate, and these animals then transmit it to humans through close contact.
The mother and her 12-year-old daughter were potentially exposed to the virus after the girl's horse died from the disease two weeks ago. As of late Monday, they were in good health and showing no symptoms, the spokesman said.
With fruit bat populations growing and moving around Australia, health officials are hoping to begin producing the anti-serum locally and are already in talks with a research foundation in the United States.
Barry Smyth, vice-president of the Australian Veterinary Association, said fruit bats, also known as flying foxes, were being found in areas they had never previously been seen, which could increase the risk of an outbreak.
"These flying fox populations, their habitat is being impacted by land clearing and urbanisation and so they have had to change their area where they normally circulate," Smyth told AFP.
"And this brings them in ever closer contact with human populations and other animal populations including horses."
The Hendra virus is difficult to detect because it produces a range of symptoms in horses - none of which are exclusive to the virus - and the animal can be infectious for two or three days before it shows any symptoms.
The virus, which is believed to be unique to Australia, is named after the Brisbane suburb where it was first documented and can lead to fatal respiratory illness in humans and horses.
interviewThe producer and activist, Trudie Styler, whose film 'Filth' is up for five film awards, is tapping into the industry's neglected female talent
musicBlack Sabbath have pulled off one of rock music’s great comebacks – against all odds
interviewHer estate has become the nation's glossiest food empire
theatreTheatre's hitmaker Daniel Evans on 'Oliver' and bringing 'The Full Monty' to the stage
food + drinkMichelin-starred Tom Sellers on being this year's hottest property
tvParents (and kids) rejoice! A new wave of fantastic family entertainment is here
booksGeese, gorillas, grandads... and growing up
food + drinkHow one grocery e-tailer is gearing up for the Yuletide rush
food + drink
travelFor broadcaster Mishal Husain, a long-haul Club Med holiday was a chance for her family to explore its sense of 'zen' and 'animation'
food + drinkFestive snacks don't have to be fiddly, says Bill Granger
Life & Style blogs
- 1 Hundreds arrested as Canadian police smash worldwide paedophile ring
- 2 Sherlock series 3: Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman provide teasers for the biggest comeback in British television
- 3 David Duke: Former Ku Klux Klan leader expelled from Italy
- 4 Why Barcelona chose Everton to educate their latest prodigy
- 5 Japan cracks down on leaks after scandal of Fukushima nuclear power plant
- < Previous
- Next >
£30000 - £45000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Server Side De...
£50000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: C# ASP.NET Developer (...
£60000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits: Harrington Starr: Senior C# WPF .NET Dev...
Negotiable: Harrington Starr: QA Manual Tester FX Trading Platform/Derivative...