Flying-foxes and Hendra virus

Spectacled flying-fox (Pteropus
conspicillatus subsp. conspicillatus
Photo: Mike Trennery

Outbreaks of Hendra virus in Queensland and New South Wales in 2011 raised concerns about the proximity of Flying-foxes to rural, urban and peri-urban areas.

Flying-foxes are natural 'hosts' of Hendra virus, meaning that they carry the virus but it has little effect on them. There is no evidence to suggest they can directly transfer the virus to humans. It is believed that the virus may be transmitted from Flying-foxes to horses, via exposure to urine or birthing fluids, although this has not been confirmed. On rare occasions, humans have contracted the virus through close contact with infected horses.

At a national level, health matters are mainly regulated and managed by the Department of Health (for human aspects) and the Department of Agriculture (for domestic animals and wildlife health). State governments also have a leading role in managing health issues.

Hendra virus research is being coordinated nationally through the Intergovernmental Hendra Virus Taskforce. The taskforce is made up of the respective heads of biosecurity agencies in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and the Australian Government, chief veterinary officers, chief health officers, chief scientists and senior environmental representatives from Queensland and New South Wales, as well as the Australian Chief Veterinary Officer and head of the Australian Animal Health Laboratory CSIRO. For more information on the taskforce visit:

In 2011, the Australian Government announced it would be providing up to $6 million towards Hendra research. This funding will be added to New South Wales and Queensland contributions of $3 million each. These research funds will be managed through the Intergovernmental Hendra Virus Taskforce.

Further information on Hendra virus: