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Government gives $300,000 for hendra virus study
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July 15, 2010 - 8:20 am
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5 hours 11 minutes ago

Qld Government funds hendra virus study

The State Government pledged a $300,000 grant yesterday to produce an antibody for the hendra virus in humans.

The University of Queensland will use the funds to produce monoclonal antibodies as an experimental treatment for humans against the potentially deadly virus.

Health Minister Paul Lucas says the new locally produced antibody for the virus could be ready in six months.

Mr Lucas says it will help protect people who have been exposed to the virus.

"It is not a vaccine - it is about if someone is exposed in a risk situation, then on the best medical advice, if you can give them this, then it can reduce their chances of it then going onto hendra virus," he said.

"But there are no guarantees here."

Queensland chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young also says the new locally produced antibody for the virus will not be a cure-all for the disease.

Dr Young says while the treatment will give people infected with the virus a better chance of survival, prevention will remain the best option.

"This is going to mean that we'll have a tool available to us where people have exposed themselves to a significant degree and we can offer this treatment," she said.

"But really and truly it's not an alternative to prevention - the best way is for people to get the message to protect themselves from sick horses."

Australian Veterinary Association (AVA) president Dr Barry Smyth has welcomed the Queensland Government's grant for the research, also saying prevention remains the best approach.

"The development of monoclonal anti-body to treat people who have potentially been exposed to hendra virus does provide some degree of comfort," he said.

Peter Brady, who was exposed to the virus when he and his partner patted an infected horse on Queensland's Sunshine Coast in May, say they have just been cleared in the final round of testing.

But Mr Brady says the Government need to improve its handling of future outbreaks and any treatment has to be administered early.

"We'd had a full-week hearing that a horse with hendra virus had been put down in Tewantin - not having a clue that it was the horse my partner and I had pats with and interacted with and were familiar with," he said.

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