Human trials on Hendra virus treatment to begin soon

By David Lewis

Posted October 31, 2013 17:48:46

Human trials of a treatment for Hendra virus will soon begin, with Queensland researchers now recruiting participants.

Queensland Health Minister Lawrence Springborg says Hendra virus poses a serious health risk to the general public.

“It has caused significant deaths among horses and also, unfortunately, humans,” he said.

Four people have died of the disease since 1994.

But it is hoped a treatment developed in collaboration with American scientists could save lives.

Queensland’s chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young says the antibody will be given to a small group of healthy adults to evaluate its safety and correct dosage, and to identify any side effects.

“So we can say to people we have a safe treatment that we can offer you,” she said.

The $9 million research program has been jointly funded by the Queensland, New South Wales and Federal governments.

Health experts warn the development of a treatment does not eliminate the need for preventative measures.

Dr Young also points out there is only a short window in which the treatment can be administered.

“It’s not a treatment should someone actually develop the disease, this won’t make any difference,” she said.

“This has to be given before someone has developed the disease.”

Dr Young says the antibody would be used for vets and horse owners who are exposed to Hendra after coming into contact with sick animals.

Topics: hendra-virus-infection, medical-research, animals, veterinary-medicine, brisbane-4000, maroochydore-4558, southport-4215, toowoomba-4350, sydney-2000

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