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Northern Territory Disease Surveillance Operation, 11th April 2005.

Flora River Nature ParkIn April 2005 HERG team members Dr Raina Plowright, University of California, Anja Divljan, University of Sydney and Craig Smith, Queensland Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries, conducted a disease surveillance operation in the Northern Territory, Australia. The operation is part of a longitudinal study of Hendra virus in little red flying foxes in the Katherine Region. Photo: R. Plowright.

Little red flying foxesThe primary goal of the operation was to ascertain the prevalence of antibodies to Hendra virus within the population and attempt to isolate any virus that might be present. One hundred and four little red flying foxes, including 9 one week old pups, were caught, sampled and safely released over several mornings. A small blood sample, urogenital and oral swabs where taken to allow HERG team members Dr Alex Hyatt, Dr Kim Halpin, Dr Greer Meehan and Rhys Fogarty at the Australian Animal Health Laboratory to test for the presence of antibodies and virus. Photo: R. Plowright.

Small boat mist netThese results will be used by Dr Raina Plowright to study the dynamics of Hendra virus in little red flying fox populations. Understanding the persistence and spread of Hendra virus within flying foxes will help us to determine why the virus emerged into domestic animals and humans. Anja Divljan will be studying the age structure of flying fox populations which will help us to determine age specific seroprevalence of Hendra virus in little reds. Photo: R. Plowright.

Salt water crocodileHERG team members are grateful for the assistance they received from the Parks and Wildlife Service Northern Territory (PWSNT) during this operation and would like to thank Senior Scientist Carol Palmer and Senior Rangers Chris Kinnaird, Justin Perry, Rhonda Scoccimarro, John Burke and Dave Hooper from the Katherine region.

The PWSNT assisted by providing small water craft and accommodation and access to the Flora River Nature Park, they were also kind enough to catch and relocate the 3.5 m salt water crocodile that took up residence by our boat ramp. Photo: R. Plowright.

Watch videos from the operation including fly-out over Flora River, when flying foxes leave their colony after sunset to begin their nightly foraging. Video: C. Smith.

 Flyout

Author: C. Smith & R. Plowright.