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NMIT supports Victorian horse industry with Hendra Virus forum

20 Sep 2010

As a part of its Primary Industries Professional Development Series NMIT's (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) Faculty of Earth Sciences has announced that it will host a forum of vital interest to the Equine industry including the racing, horse breeding, equestrian, pony club and other sectors.

The Equine Hendra Virus - a Victorian Perspective will provide an up-to-date snapshot on the Hendra Virus, explaining in easy to understand terms just what the virus is and the best strategies for minimising its spread should an outbreak occur in Victoria.

The virus takes its name from the Brisbane suburb of Hendra where the first Australian outbreak was detected in September1994. That event resulted in the death of 14 horses and prominent horse trainer, Vic Rail, and even threatened to stop the Melbourne Cup in that year. Since that time 13 clusters of the Hendra Virus infection have been recorded in horses while seven people have been confirmed as infected, four of whom have died as a result.

Since the 1994 outbreak, scientists at the CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory (Geelong) have been researching the virus, including strategies to control its spread. It is believed that the virus has been carried and spread by fruit bats and, while Hendra Virus is not considered highly contagious, it can be lethal if transmitted to horses or humans. However, since 2005 there have been a number of research breakthroughs resulting in a greater understanding of the virus.

The NMIT forum will feature two key authorities on the Hendra Virus:

Dr Deborah Middleton - Theme Leader of the Transforming Animal Biosecurity research area at the CSIRO's Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) in Geelong, Victoria. An AAHL diagnostic team isolated and identified the Hendra Virus as a new virus after the 1994 outbreak. Go to for a full biography on Dr Middleton.

Dr Leanna Dries - Veterinary Officer, Emergency Animal Disease Preparedness, from the Victorian Department of Primary Industries.

”NMIT is pleased to present this as a free forum in the interest of informing all sectors of the Victorian equine industry about the Hendra virus. We urge all key horse organisations to be represented,” said Louise Nunn, NMIT's Head of Program, Equine Studies.

What: Forum - The Equine Hendra Virus - a Victorian Perspective
Where: Building L Auditorium, NMIT Epping Campus, corner of Dalton Rd. and Cooper St., Epping.
When: 4.00 pm - 5.30 pm, Thursday, 21 October, 2010
Cost: Free of charge

About the NMIT Faculty of Earth Sciences Primary Industries Professional Development Series.

The Primary Industries Professional Development Series is part of the NMIT Faculty of Earth Sciences' ongoing commitment to work with and support Australian Primary Industries. Previous events in the Series include:

Structural Assessment School for Cattle Breeders (July 2010)
• The NMIT 'AG Zone' seminar program - Seymour Alternative Farming Expo (SAFE) (February 2010)
• Master classes for the Wine and Grape Growing Industry (monthly)
Aquaculture industry forum featuring Dr Don Furnell, Chair of Fisheries and Aquaculture Department, Victoria Island University, Canada (August 2008)


Interview / Photo Opportunity

Media enquiries should be directed to the NMIT Communications Officer, James Gardener, on (03) 92691579, 0413 483 182 or

NMIT (Northern Melbourne Institute of TAFE) - Situated on six campuses and six training centres throughout Melbourne's north plus a regional campus at Ararat, NMIT delivers vocational training, higher education and lifelong learning capabilities for a global workforce. NMIT forges partnerships with community, industry and government to produce practical, solution orientated graduates capable of making meaningful contributions to their chosen field of endeavour.