THE deadly Hendra virus has been confirmed in a horse at a property near Australia's horse capital of Scone, the most southern location the infection has been detected in NSW.
An unvaccinated mare on a Hunter Valley property developed neurological signs on Friday, June 7, three days after being confined to a yard, the Department of Primary Industries said in a statement.
It was euthanased by the owners after becoming unresponsive, it said.
Because the horse was not vaccinated and had a sudden onset of neurological signs, the owners contacted the animal diseases hotline, the department said.
A veterinarian from Hunter Local Lands Services visited the property on Sunday, June 9 to collect samples for testing and the Hendra infection, which is deadly to both horses and humans, was confirmed on Wednesday.
No other horses on the property were showing signs of ill health and they would be monitored daily, the department said.
Anyone who has had contact with the affected horse was being assessed by health authorities and the horse's movements in the previous 16 days were being traced.
The bat-borne Hendra virus infection is notifiable in NSW under the Biosecurity Act. Most cases in the state have been on the north coast, with a case at Kempsey in 2013 being the most southern case prior to the current case.
In NSW to date there have been 22 horse deaths as a result of Hendra virus on 20 properties since the first NSW case in 2006. There have been no human deaths from Hendra in NSW. Authorities say vaccination of horses is the most effective way to manage the disease.
On Thursday, Hunter Local Land Services said anyone worried about the detection of the virus in the Upper Hunter should educate themselves of what to look for. Symptoms in horses include: rapid onset of illness, increased body temperature, increased heart rate, discomfort and rapid deterioration with either respiratory and/or nervous signs.
"If you notice any unusual symptoms, unusual behaviour or unexpected deaths in your horses, please immediately contact your veterinarian," it said in a statement.
If symptoms are suggestive of Hendra infection the Emergency Animal Disease Hotline can also be contacted on 1800 675 888.