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Expert Says Katter Plan "Could Worsen Hendra Threat"

Thursday, 14th July 2011

However Queensland's chief biosecurity officer Dr Rick Symons warned Bob Katter’s plan to cull flying foxes “could actually worsen the Hendra threat” reported The Courier-Mail. Flying foxes (common in north Queensland) are natural hosts of the virus & it's believed the bats infect horses via their urine, saliva or birth products. But Symons said “there's evidence to suggest stress causes flying foxes to shed more of the virus” & explained: “I believe, in terms of biosecurity, culling is counter-productive. It does stress the flying foxes. They are then more likely to discrete it." Symons said culling would be ineffective for other reasons too: “It could be filled by another bat colony the next day & if you are moving them on, it becomes somebody else's problem.” Symons suggested the best solution “at the moment was to try to keep horses away from bat colonies”. His comments came as horse breeders & vets in far north Queensland “expressed concern about the potential spread of the deadly Hendra virus” following this week’s latest outbreak at a trail riding property west of Cairns.

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