Citizens of Queensland are asked to share their opinion on the new survey about flying foxes, the native fruit bats that are considered to be carriers of the deadly Hendra virus. According to Dr. Hume Field, a Biosecurity Queensland researcher, the flying fox survey community can now be accessed online or through mail upon request.
Hendra virus is a virus endemic to flying foxes. This virus can be spread to horses, and on seven cases, the virus has been transmitted from horses to humans. Four of the seven cases were proved to be fatal. People’s thoughts about flying foxes and their understanding on the risks brought by the virus are matters of interest. The survey will ask questions on people’s thoughts about the scattered flying foxes in the local area.
The survey should be completed in no more than 10 minutes and answers should be treated as a confidential matter. Field encouraged people to participate especially if flying foxes are considered a nuisance to their area.
Education is a powerful tool in the battle against the Hendra virus. While a lot of people have taken their part in educating themselves about the Hendra virus risk factors, there are still several issues surrounding the matter that are misinterpreted.
Diseases caused by hendra virus are zoonotic diseases, which mean that the disease can be spread to humans via animals. Hendra virus was first discovered in Hendra, Brisbane in the year 1994 when an illness outbreak affected a large group of racing horses in stables. The natural host for the virus is the flying fox. The virus can be transferred from flying fox to horses, and in rare cases, horses to humans. In July 2011, one dog showed evidence of Hendra virus exposure after contact with an infected horse.
The survey on flying foxes is initiated by the Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry and the Department of Environment and Heritage Protection. The research is backed by the Queensland and New South Wales Government and the Australian Government under the National Hendra Virus Research Program.
Sources: http://horsetalk.co.nz, http://access.health.qld.gov.au