Thursday, August 21, 2008

Hendra Virus claims vet.

One of the vets hospitalised with the Hendra virus recently has died.
Dr Ben Cunneen has died after being hospitalised for the Hendra virus.
I can't find any more information out about the vet. It's just been announced on the news.
I just found this at the Redlands Vet Clinic site:
Dr. Ben Cunneen (B.V.Sc.) Ben is one of our senior equine veterinarians, and has been with Redlands Veterinary Clinic for quite some time. Ben graduated
from the University of Sydney, and has many years of experience in private equine practice. Ben and his wife Gill recently moved to Redland Bay, and Ben is an instrumental member of our mobile equine practice.


Anonymous said...

What do you need to know about him? I knew him personally. He was a decent human being who dedicated his life to working with horses. Horses were his passion. He had a wife named Gill. He moved to QLD for his love of horses. He has been in intensive care for 5 weeks, the last few days in an induced come. And some dickhead on the news says that "if proper infection controls were in place, Dr Cunneen would be here today". Sure, if more research had been done into the 6 cases that have been documented in the last 14 years. This man leaves behind a wife and family who love him. He has had his fair share of troubles in life, including being hit by a car driven by a drunk P Plater some years ago. But, he returned to being the kind, happy and well loved person for which he will be remembered.

kae said...

Hello Anonymous (I wish you’d signed for me.)

Sorry for your loss, he looks like he'd have a young family, too.

When I posted this I had only heard on the radio that a vet had died from Hendra virus and it was hard to hear his name. I tried to find out more information on the name of the vet to see if there was a news announcement telling more about him.

I hope that no more people die from this disease, it's awful, and I hope that research can be carried out to find out how it’s spread and find a cure or a vaccine as there is for Q-Fever and other zoonoses.

If proper contageous disease controls were in place? I'm pretty sure that any vet dealing with a mystery disease would be very careful about what he did – even though Hendra hadn't been seen for two years or so, and equine influenza had last year devastated anyone with equine interests, every precaution would be taken so that any disease wouldn’t be spread.

Many people said that Tamworth should have been kept alive so that there could be research into his antibodies to see what it was that helped him survive the virus.

I have made a few other posts on my blog about this, I have friends with horses and have worked in a university environment with vets. I wondered if the euthanasia of Tamworth was a knee-jerk reaction to the disaster of equine influenza, and a panic at the chance that Henrda could spread even after the horse seemed to have recovered, to other horses and to humans.

Unfortunately I doubt that there will be the money for the research needed into Hendra unless someone from the horse fraternity (the ones who do have the money, for example, the big racing breeders in Muswellbrook, and places like that), front up the money.

It wasn’t just the racing industry which was effected by equine influenza, farmers couldn’t muster, people with horses on smaller properties who needed to agist them on various properties to give them enough feed couldn’t move them around. It cost them a fortune in feed and after months of being stuck in poor paddocks things were getting grim for a few people I knew with horses. Some even spoke of having some horses put down with the timelines for removing quarantine moving all the time.

Again, I’m sorry for your loss it’s a terrible tragedy.

Anonymous said...


Just saw that I had saved your address on my favourites. Some bitter sweet (but belated) news-Ben's wife Gill is expecting their child in coming months. She found out while he was in a coma, and told him, so we believe he took that news with him, and will watch over them always.

kae said...

Hi Anon (you never told me your name!)
That is bitter-sweet news, however, Ben and Gill's child will certainly help Gill, and keep Ben's memory very much alive for all the family. I would guess that if this is Ben's only child his immediate family (Mum, Dad and siblings), will be delighted to get to know Ben's child and watch him/her grow.
What a wonderful outcome from a tragedy.
Best wishes to all.