Australia Funds Research In Virus Outbreak

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BRISBANE, Australia, July 28 (UPI) — Authorities in Australia have announced a fourfold increase in funding for research on a bat-borne virus that is potentially fatal to horses and humans.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh announced the increase in funding for hendra virus research after a crisis meeting in Brisbane prompted by more than 10 outbreaks of the virus in horses in Queensland and New South Wales over the past month, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. reported Wednesday.

On Tuesday it was confirmed a dog had also tested positive for the virus at a property near Brisbane where three horses have died.

Scientists say despite the infected dog there’s no evidence the hendra virus is mutating.

Dr. Martyn Jeggo, director of the Animal Health Laboratory, said it is unlikely humans can catch hendra from dogs.

“All the evidence we have today is that horses become infected from bats and then humans become infected from horses,” he said. “There’s absolutely no evidence that bats infect humans.”

“Therefore, I think it’s reasonable to surmise in this case that the dogs became infected from the horse.”

The governments of Queensland and New South Wales said they would increase research funding into the hendra virus by $6 million over the next three years.

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