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Hendra vaccine ready for roll-out

THE vaccine against the deadly Hendra virus is now available for use on horses nationally.

The Agriculture Minister, Joe Ludwig, said on Wednesday the vaccine was being made available nationally after an initial roll-out in high-risk areas in Queensland and NSW.

It is the result of almost 20 years of research, millions of dollars and the work of close to 100 researchers.

It is hoped the vaccine will stop the spread from horses to humans of the bat-borne virus, which has claimed the lives of four people and 80 horses since it was first identified in Brisbane in 1994.

''It is so important for both the vet community plus the horse-owning community to have this breakthrough,'' Senator Ludwig said.

The federal government contributed $3 million to the development of the vaccine by Pfizer, CSIRO, vets and the US defence force. The vaccine will not be subsidised by the government.

''It's important that horse owners talk to their vets about the vaccine because it is important that we have to break that cycle between bats who then pass it to horses, and then horses who then become sick with virus pass it to humans,'' Senator Ludwig said.

According to the CSIRO, there was an unprecedented Hendra spike last year. It was also the first year that a dog tested positive to the virus.

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