Hendra virus is a virus that mainly infects large fruit bats (flying foxes) which can be passed on to horses. The infection has occasionally been passed onto people who have been in close contact with an infected horse.
People who have had close contact (particularly high level exposures as described above) with an infected horse, without wearing appropriate personal protective equipment, are most at risk.
People with suspected Hendra virus infection will usually have blood and urine tests. Depending on their symptoms they may also have nose/throat swabs and/or other tests. People with high level exposures to horse body fluids may have blood samples collected over six weeks to check if they have developed antibodies to the infection. Testing for Hendra virus infection is generally not recommended for people who have had lower-level exposure.
There is no specific treatment for Hendra virus infection and cases are treated supportively in hospital or in intensive care. Antiviral medications have not been found to be effective in treating Hendra virus infection. People who have had high exposures to the body fluids of an infected horse may be offered experimental treatment with a type of antibody that may prevent infection.
NSW Department of Primary Industry