Unexpected Result of Hendra Virus Outbreaks for Veterinarians, Queensland, Australia - Vol. 18 No. 1 - January 2012 - Emerging Infectious Disease journal - CDC
Volume 18, Number 1—January 2012
Unexpected Result of Hendra Virus Outbreaks for Veterinarians, Queensland, Australia
Suggested citation for this article
In the mid-1990s, Hendra virus (HeV) emerged as a new pathogen that spilled over from bats to horses to humans (1,2). All 7 cases of HeV infection among humans in Australia occurred in Queensland. Five of these cases involved equine veterinary personnel who conducted routine necropsies or endoscopies; 3 of the 5 cases were fatal (2–6). In Australia, equine clinical services are mostly delivered by veterinarians working in private practice. The 3 deaths prompted government and veterinary professional agencies to promote the overhaul of infection-control measures in veterinary practice (3,4) and increase auditing of veterinary infection-control strategies in private equine practice by Workplace Health and Safety Queensland (7). In 2011, HeV outbreaks multiplied throughout Queensland and New South Wales, and samples from a dog were positive for HeV (8,9).
AbstractA qualitative study of equine veterinarians and allied staff from Queensland, Australia, showed that veterinarians are ceasing equine practice because of fears related to Hendra virus. Their decisions were motivated by personal safety and legal liability concerns.
With the approval of the James Cook University Human Ethics Committee (permit H3513), we interviewed veterinarians and allied staff from veterinary practices with the aim of capturing the HeV-related infection-control and workplace health and safety issues faced by equine practices. We report on 1 unexpected emerging issue: the departure of veterinarians from equine practice as a result of HeV outbreaks.
During 2009–2010, we conducted face-to-face, in-depth interviews with 21 veterinarians and allied staff from 14 equine and mixed private veterinary practices from a range of urban and rural areas between Cairns and Brisbane, Queensland, Australia (Table 1) (10). We asked a series of open-ended questions to determine what HeV-related infection-control and workplace health and safety issues confront equine practices (Table 2). Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed for themes.