The New South Wales (NSW), Australia, Department of Primary Industries’ contribution to the national Hendra virus research program will be showcased at the National Hendra Virus Research Program Symposium held in Brisbane this week.

Jeffrey Hammond, PhD, NSW Department of Primary Industries (DPI) director of science and research, said the symposium allows researchers from across Australia to share their project findings from the National Hendra Virus Research Program.

“Hendra virus has had devastating impacts here in Australia, including four human and 77 horse deaths, since it was first identified in 1994,” Hammond said. “Following the unprecedented number of Hendra virus incidents in 2011, the Commonwealth, Queensland, and New South Wales governments contributed a total of $12 million to accelerate our understanding of Hendra virus.”

He added that the NSW DPI, in collaboration with national and international agencies, has contributed to the three-year research program to gain a better understanding of how and where Hendra virus exists in bat populations in areas ranging from Cairns in Queensland to Batemans Bay in NSW.

“Part of this research involved the collection of more than 15,000 urine samples from flying foxes located at 50 roosts which covered all known equine case locations,” Hammond continued. “In addition, data including roost size, species composition, and reproductive status were recorded and analyzed for associations with the occurrence of Hendra virus.”

The urine samples were processed at the DPI Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute Centre of Excellence for