Testing for Hendra virus: difficulties experienced by veterinarians in Queensland prior to 2011

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To identify the perceived barriers to Hendra virus (HeV) management by private equine veterinarians in Queensland.


An exploratory qualitative study of private equine veterinarians registered and working in coastal Queensland.


A questionnaire that included eight open-ended questions about the management of HeV was used in face-to-face in-depth interviews with 21 veterinary personnel working in equine or mixed private practice between Far North and South-East Queensland in 2009–10. The qualitative data was entered and analysed thematically using QSR's International's Nvivo 9 qualitative data analysis software.


This study revealed key issues associated with HeV testing: (1) inadequate knowledge of testing procedures and laboratory diagnostic pathways; (2) difficulty in accessing laboratory services; (3) responsibility for cost of collection and transport of specimen; and (4) the role of government. Participants perceived these issues as reducing potential HeV case management efficiency.


Although HeV management plans have been modified in part since 2009–10, this study highlights the importance of considering the perspectives of private veterinary practitioners in any biosecurity protocols.

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