Starting today (Nov. 1), Australian horse owners and the equine industry will receive an important boost in their fight against the deadly hendra virus with the introduction of Equivac HeV vaccine. Available under permit from accredited veterinarians, the vaccine will also assist in breaking the cycle of transmission that puts humans at risk of contracting this potentially lethal virus.

With a high mortality rate, this virus has claimed the lives of 81 horses since its discovery in 1994, including nine deaths in 2012 alone. With no known cure for hendra, the Equivac HeV vaccine is positioned to become the most effective defence against this virus.

"This vaccine significantly decreases the risk of exposure to hendra virus for horse owners, handlers, and veterinarians. For that reason, the Australian Veterinary

Association recommends that all horses be vaccinated against the Hendra virus," said Dr. Ben Gardiner, president of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA). "The vaccine will also help to protect the health of horses and is a major win for anyone working in the equine industry, including veterinarians. We encourage all horse owners to contact their veterinarian to schedule a … vaccine appointment."

This long-awaited vaccine was the result of an international collaboration. In Australia,

Pfizer Animal Health has worked in close partnership with Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization’s (CSIRO) Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL). Additionally, U.S.-based organizations, the Uniformed Service University of the Health Sciences (USU) and The Henry M. Jackson Foundation