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Cats could pass on Hendra virus

Cats could pass on Hendra virus



DOMESTIC cats have the potential to contract the fatal Hendra virus and pass it to humans, Queensland's chief veterinary officer says.

Dr Rick Symons says studies are being done to better understand how Hendra spreads, its effects on family pets and how dogs and cats can pass the virus to humans.

"The limited information we have is that it doesn't seem to affect the dogs," Dr Symons told AAP.

"Cats can certainly get it and spread it.

"There is work on other species.

"Ferrets can get it and other animals can get the virus."

Hendra is just one of a number of deadly bat-borne diseases that have claimed more 1000 lives in just over a decade.

Scientists have linked the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), which caused more than 900 deaths, and Nipah virus, which has claimed more than 100 lives, to bats.



Scientists report SARS was carried by bats and most likely passed on to civets which were eaten by humans.

Mr Symons acknowledged the similarity between the way Nipah virus was initially spread by sick pigs to humans, and how Hendra has spread from sick horses to humans.

Even though Hendra has claimed four lives in Australia, he said the virus was now being managed far more effectively than in the past and culling flying foxes was unnecessary.

"They (flying foxes) do carry diseases that can kill people, but it's about not getting rid of bats, it's about managing the issue," Dr Symons said.

"Humans carry diseases around all the time. We don't cull them because they carry diseases.

"Dogs and cats carry diseases that can kill humans, but we don't cull them."

Federal independent MP Bob Katter wants to give every Queenslander the right to kill or remove deadly animals, in particular flying foxes, from their property.

The Katter's Australian Party leader announced the policy at a Gold Coast home that has been at the front line of Queensland's undeclared war on bats.

Mr Katter referred to scientific reports that have linked bats to the origin of SARS, Leptospirosis and Nipah virus.

"We will provide every landowner with the right to have control over his backyard," he told reporters.

"So if he decides to remove a deadly animal, like this bat up here, or a snake, it's his backyard, not the crown's."

He said flying fox numbers should be cut back to pre-European settlement numbers as they were wildly out of control.

A Townsville vet is one of 10 people being tested for Hendra following the latest outbreak of the disease on Tuesday.

The virus killed a horse on a property south of Townsville, which has now been quarantined.

Queensland Environment Minister Vicky Darling said culling flying foxes would have a devastating effect on the environment.

"Councils across the state have approval to manage flying foxes and my department has issued damage mitigation permits to four councils last year alone," Ms Darling said.

"A cull would raise significant public safety and animal welfare issues, would be grossly irresponsible and quite honestly, would not work."


COMMENTS ON THIS STORY

Sue Richardson of Peachester Posted at 2:44 PM January 08, 2012
With 11 million dollars poured into the Feral pest control strategy, governed by Biosecurity Qld, I would like to see the Hendra Virus test results publicised from all the feral pest animals eg. pigs, foxes, cats and dogs, trapped and removed from the bush (and humanely euthanized), since the strategy was begun. I think the public has a right to be made aware of these results, since these animals are often mingling unknown with stock, including horses. I trust Biosecurity do have these test results to hand?

sue Posted at 2:00 PM January 08, 2012
oh for gods sake its killed 4 people, thats less then die on the roads in a week. ludicrous scaremongering that animals will pay for. also, bob katter is an irresponsible, speciest moron!

Dave of Brisneyland Posted at 4:32 PM January 07, 2012
We should cull the cats.

alia Posted at 4:34 PM January 07, 2012
I bet no one will ask to cull cats.....

Judith of Gold Coast Posted at 4:42 PM January 07, 2012
The scientific facts tell us that flying foxes carry the Hendra virus. Whether or not they are culled, this will still be the case. Although it is a dreadful thing for horse owners to see their animals suffer and die, they do have a duty to take care abd see that their animals are protected, to the best of their ability. The virus will always be with us - we will need to do the right thing to prevent it spreading. Killing off an entire, very important species is not the answer. To start talking about cats spreading the virus without real factual scientific evidence that this is, in fact, true, is not a good course to follow. There are many people who are very overwrought about this disease, and its effects, who are now being fed a diet of myths and half truths. It would be far better for us all if articles about Hendra virus could be factually correct and scientifically accurate; wild suppositions can only bring huge disharmony in the community and many acts of cruelty to cats, as well as flying foxes. In my opinion, Mr Katter's behaviour is grossly irresponsible. Highly inflammatory statements will not do anything to help and should be stopped.

John of Townsville Posted at 4:44 PM January 07, 2012
Go Bob, shoot all the cats. That really will do wonders for the environment but very little for your electoral chances. So I guess you will not be making that suggestion, however sensible. Never let reality get in the way of a vote.

Phil of Mitchelton Posted at 4:49 PM January 07, 2012
Still think Mr Katter is a rat-bag, re his views on Bat's?

One of Many Posted at 4:50 PM January 07, 2012
Good thing cat owners are all so responsible, then. HaHaHaHaHaHa

phorse of Rosewood, QLD Posted at 4:54 PM January 07, 2012
Easy solution... Don't let your cat out at night...

Shano of The Village Posted at 5:06 PM January 07, 2012
And Bob Bentley wants to have Harness horses and Greyhounds at the same complex at Deagon..Surely the Govt must step in and say this cannot happen. It's a disaster waiting to happen if horses get it and pass it on to the dogs.. and shut down two industries for the price of one..

Bill of Far North Queensland Posted at 5:55 PM January 07, 2012
This is an easy one. Cats are feral animals so just rid the country of cats. Do the birds and small animals a big favour at the same time.

Farmer Will Posted at 5:59 PM January 07, 2012
We are way overdue for a cat cull.

Scott of Bundaberg Posted at 6:08 PM January 07, 2012
Katter's comments are incorrect and inaccurate. Scientists have found a virus similar to SARS in microbats i.e the little insect eating bats which live in caves which rarely come into contact with humans. They also note it doesn't spread into humans and doesn't appear to cause any harm. Flying fox numbers have been decreasing for the past thirty years. They only appear more numerous because they have been split from larger colonies into smaller ones and live closer to humans because we destroy their habitat and no one lets off firearms in populated areas. This information comes from Dr Les Hall, who is world renowned for his research and has worked with the CSIRO and UQ. I suggest the Courier Mail or people concerned about diseases ring the Australian Bat Clinic and ask to speak with him. He will give you credible information.

Sylvester of not the Cat Posted at 6:32 PM January 07, 2012
Sounds like time for a cull....LOL

Roberts of Perth Posted at 6:51 PM January 07, 2012
A study done in Canada some years ago, pointed out that cats were responsible for MS in humans. Cats are responsible for a multitude of diseases and yet people keep them in their homes and even have them in their beds!!!!!!!

DC of Brisbane Posted at 7:21 PM January 07, 2012
People need to keep their cats inside instead of letting them roam around (like the 6+ cats that roam our street because their owners don't care about them). I quite like cats (and dogs for that matter), but owners have a responsibility not to let them roam around the streets. They should be registered as well.

DC of Brisbane Posted at 7:29 PM January 07, 2012
Can we cull Bob Katter if he's carrying any kind of disease? Or if he steps onto our property?

Deadwood Posted at 7:49 PM January 07, 2012
Let's start culling the cats now. Unlike bats they are introduced and decimating native wildlife throughout the entire country.

John of Greenbank Posted at 8:29 PM January 07, 2012
Listen to the guys that know, the vets. There are a lot of wildlife carers out there and they are not sick. Management and knowledge are the key to any problem.

Maddogpom of mooloolaba Posted at 9:04 PM January 07, 2012
Great good enough reason to Kill all of them. They destroy native wild life and now they can infect us. Time we did something to remove this public menace.

Joy Emerson of Qld Posted at 9:06 PM January 07, 2012
Katter is a stupid old man, with his comments about culling bats, he needs to be more informed.Like the Dr Symons said we humans carry disease and we definately do not cull ourselves. Goverment has done so much damage to our eco system with this type of gunghoe attitude over the years.

rodfrom townsville of "Townsville Posted at 10:32 PM January 07, 2012
Sorry Bob, Ive had Leptospirosis, and I didn't get it from bats, I got it from cattle (sub strain hardjo) - check out the scinece before you make stupid comments about things you diddly squat about.

Virus Hosts of Australia Posted at 1:24 AM January 08, 2012
Several cats have also feline HIV and the virus can be passed to humans as well as the monkeys' HIV.

Toads, Cats and Flying Rats? of Coorparoo Posted at 5:02 AM January 08, 2012
Along with the many species claimed to carry and transmit Hendra Virus to horses, has the humble Cane Toad (Bufo marinus) been investigated as a potential vector of Hendra Virus?

Annie of brisbane Posted at 6:46 AM January 08, 2012
Katter you can't just go around killing everything that may harm you ... think about it, it would cause anarchy you idiot!


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