TWO horses west of Allora have tested positive to Australian Bat Lyssavirus in what is a world first.
Never before have horses been confirmed to have contracted the deadly virus, believed to be carried by bats, until yesterday.
Highborne Farm owner Cameron Osborne, who resides in Brisbane, said he was visiting the property the day the first horse began showing symptoms of being ill early last week.
"We called the vet immediately to take a look," Mr Osborne said.
A few days after the first horse became ill, a second started showing similar symptoms.
"It got to a stage where we had to make the tough decision to euthanise the horses," Mr Osborne said.
Results confirming the horses had Lyssavirus surfaced yesterday and the farm was put into quarantine.
The owner told the Daily News he was now under the instructions of Biosecurity Queensland.
"There's nothing we can do now," he said.
"We have to do what the experts tell us.
"We will be following their strict instructions to ensure the issue is dealt with properly."
Clarie Chappell, the tenant on the property, gave the Daily News a detailed account of how the events unfolded.
"The filly wouldn't come up when I called her and we just thought she was in season, which it turns out she was, but she just seemed off colour," Mr Chappell said.
"We took her up to the stables and by morning she was no better, so we called the vet and he came out and did tests.
"She was stumbling and wobbly but would be up and down with her health and then she began to decline so rapidly."
About two days later, the horse laid down and began to have sporadic fits, until a final fit was so intense, the vet had to euthanise her.
When a second horse began to show similar symptoms, Mr Chappell said they moved the gelding to the stables immediately.
"He deteriorated much faster than the filly," he said.
"I have never seen anything like it - it was horrible."
The gelding was also euthanised, but the 20 other horses on the property appear to be in good health.
Ed Annand of the Flying Dutchman was the vet who tended to the sick horses and said it was important people did not stress about their horses contracting the virus.
"This is not something that is readily contagious - there is no risk to other horses in the area," Mr Ann and said.
The virus can only be contracted through the mergence of bodily fluids such as saliva to a cut.
"In this case, some insectivorous bats (microbats) could have died in the paddock the horses were in, or got into their feed somehow, but at this stage we are unsure," the vet said.
While Lyssavirus can be passed onto humans, and in the past has proven fatal, Biosecurity Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said it was important to remember that human cases of Lyssavirus were incredibly rare.
"There have only been three recorded cases in Australia, all in Queensland, and sadly, all three people passed away," Dr Young said. "All three cases were the result of direct exposure to bats with Lyssavirus.
"There are no documented cases of transmission of Lyssavirus or rabies from horses to humans; however, the theoretical possibility does exist.
"We do however have a preventative treatment that is effective in any person not displaying symptoms of the virus."
Warwick and Toowoomba Hospitals will provide a free course of this preventative treatment to anyone who public health staff determine was in close contact with these horses.
People who have had a potential exposure to ABLV require an injection of rabies immunoglobulin and a series of four rabies vaccine injections.
Any Darling Downs local who believes they have been in direct contact with, or in close proximity to this horse, can also contact 13 HEALTH (13 43 25 84) for advice.
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