DOG and cat owners have been warned to keep pets away from feeding bats, after a canine in south-east Queensland tested positive for the potentially deadly Hendra virus.
Yesterday, Queensland authorities confirmed the farm kelpie had become the first dog known to have contracted the virus outside of a laboratory.
The state's chief vet, Rick Symons, said he believed the virus had spread from an infected horse on a quarantined rural Mt Alford property to the family dog.
Dr Symons said the dog would have to be put down because of a national policy to euthanise animals infected with Hendra. Three horses at the property have already died.
"I've talked to the family. They are struggling with it as you can imagine. It's their family pet."
Hendra virus can spread from bat excretions to horses and then in rare cases to humans. Four of the seven people who have contracted the virus since it was discovered in 1994 have died.
Numerous properties in NSW and Queensland remain under quarantine as authorities battle an unusually high number of Hendra outbreaks among horses.
Members of a NSW Hendra virus taskforce today join a high-level meeting on the situation.
Vet Peter Reid, who helped in the first Hendra outbreak, advised owners to keep pets away from sick horses and consider removing fruit-bearing trees.
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