An alert has been issued after a novel variant of the Hendra virus was confirmed in a seven-year-old unvaccinated Clydesdale at West Wallsend, near Newcastle.

A vet visited the property on October 5 after the horse was reported to be showing severe neurological signs, before collapsing.

The animal unfortunately had to be euthanised.

The vet was wearing PPE at the time and thankfully, none of the five other horses on the property are showing any symptoms.

Their health is being monitored daily and public health officers from NSW Health are conducting risk assessments of any people who have been in contact with the infected horse.

This is the furthest south that a positive case has been diagnosed, but the Australian Veterinary Association says it’s “not necessarily surprising” because grey-headed flying foxes are confirmed to host the HeV-variant.

It’s reminding all veterinarians and staff that the signs and symptoms of Hendra can be vague and variable depending on the stage of the disease, so wearing PPE is essential.