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ERIC Number: EJ1048710
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2013-Dec
Pages: 7
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 14
ISSN: ISSN-1449-6313
Bat Virus Downunder: The Hendra Virus and Its Relationship to Native Fruit Bats, Horses and Human --Learning and Teaching Opportunities for Classroom Practice
van Rooy, Wilhelmina
Teaching Science, v59 n4 p39-45 Dec 2013
The fatal effect of the Hendra virus was noticed first in Queensland, Australia in 1994 when several horses died from an "unidentified cause". This was followed by the death of trainers and veterinarians called to assist affected horses. It is now known that the "unidentified cause", is a virus harboured in native Australian fruit bats. It is transmitted to horses when the bats are under stress due to lack of food, severe meteorological conditions and habitat destruction caused by both weather and urbanisation. This paper details how new biological knowledge and understanding of emerging viruses, in this case Hendra, can be used to foster high school students' interest in learning about disease, in particular the virus as a causative agent, enhance their understanding of biodiversity and appreciate the need for Australia's strict quarantine legislation. Opportunities for incorporation of these into classroom practice are highlighted throughout the paper and referenced to the Australian Curriculum F-10 Science and Senior Secondary Curriculum Biology (http:// The paper provides a current, succinct summary of knowledge and understanding about the Hendra virus suitable for high school students with cited references garnered from Australian government and CSIRO websites and research publications--the latter providing more in-depth content if sought by students. For Australian students, an understanding of the Hendra virus and its life cycle is pertinent given Australia's unique biodiversity. High media attention and research investment, knowledge about the pathology of Hendra and the ecology of Australian fruit bats is now beginning to be understood. Up to July 2013, over thirty-six properties have been affected, involving the death of eighty horses, four people and two dogs. In 2012, a vaccine became available for horses but not for humans. Since the first identification of Hendra, horse owners have become aware of the pathology of this virus and, its effects on horses and people. From an international perspective, the emergence of this virus highlights once again the potential of zoonotic viruses to wreak havoc on ecosystems, livestock and people. Hendra is lethal and remains a rare disease.
Australian Science Teachers Association. P.O. Box 334, Deakin West, ACT 2600, Australia. Tel: +61-02-6282-9377; Fax: +61-02-6282-9477; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: High Schools; Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia