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Kunjin Virus, a new neurologic disease in horses

October 2013 by Belinda Walker, NSW Horse Health Coordinator, NSW DPI

Early in 2011, an increase in the number of horses suffering from neurological disease was detected in NSW and Victoria. Blood samples from over 200 cases were submitted to the NSW State Veterinary laboratory, Elizabeth Macarthur Agricultural Institute. The brains of some of the few horses that died from the disease were also examined. Initially, an Arbovirus (a virus carried by insects) was suspected, with Murray Valley Encephalitis, Ross River Fever and Kunjin virus being investigated as the possible cause. The majority of cases in NSW were identified as being caused by Kunjin virus.