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Qld-NSW Add $6m Boost To Hendra Research

Thursday, 28th July 2011

The Queensland & NSW governments announced they will increase Hendra virus research funding by $6 million over the next 3 years. Queensland Premier Anna Bligh said the “recent spike” of cases in both states, plus confirmation this week that the potentially deadly disease has been found in a dog, means research efforts “needed accelerating” reported The Sydney Morning Herald. Bligh declared: “Beating Hendra is going to take the combined effort of scientists around Australia.” Bligh emphasised Hendra's leap into a new species (a pet kelpie on a quarantined property where a horse recently died from Hendra virus in Queensland) had “raised some very big questions” & scientists were going to “need more resources to provide answers”. Bligh noted the $6 million in new funding would “complement the work the CSIRO was doing to develop a vaccine to prevent Hendra infections in horses”; but she added there were “no shortcuts” & the vaccine would not be on the market in Australia until 2013. Bligh confirmed clinical trials of the vaccine were “very promising” & that was the “focus” of previous research efforts because horses were the source of Hendra infections in humans. Bligh said clinical trials of the vaccine would be expanded next year, ahead of its commercial release. However Bligh noted research efforts funded by the additional $6 million would focus on “a range of factors that could be behind the recent spike in Hendra cases in NSW & Queensland”. That would include “recent exceptional rainfall, which had changed the way trees that provided homes for Hendra-carrying bats were fruiting & flowering”.

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