Novel variant Hendra virus genotype 2 infection in a horse in the greater Newcastle region, New South Wales, Australia

One Health. 2022 Jul 29;15:100423. doi: 10.1016/j.onehlt.2022.100423. eCollection 2022 Dec.


In October 2021, the first contemporary detection of Hendra virus genotype 2 (HeV-g2) was made by veterinary priority disease investigation in a horse near Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, as part of routine veterinary priority disease surveillance. This discovery followed an update of Hendra virus diagnostic assays following retrospective identification of this variant from 2015 via sentinel emerging infectious disease research, enabling timely detection of this case. The sole infected horse was euthanized in moribund condition. As the southernmost recognised HeV spill-over detection to date, it extends the southern limit of known cases by approximately 95 km. The event occurred near a large urban centre, characterised by equine populations of diverse type, husbandry, and purpose, with low HeV vaccination rates. Urgent multi-agency outbreak response involved risk assessment and monitoring of 11 exposed people and biosecurity management of at-risk animals. No human or additional animal cases were recognised. This One Health investigation highlights need for research on risk perception and strategic engagement to support owners confronted with the death of companion animals and potential human exposure to a high consequence virus. The location and timing of this spill-over event diverging from that established for prototype HeV (HeV-g1), highlight benefit in proactive One Health surveillance and research activities that improve understanding of dynamic transmission and spill-over risks of both HeV genotypic lineages and related but divergent emerging pathogens.