Page 8 - XLEquine - Plan Prevent Protect - Biosecurity Booklet

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African Horse Sickness (AHS)
Disease causing agent
African horse sickness virus
midges transfer the virus from infected to non-infected horse
Signs you will see
vary, depending on the form, mostly fatal
- respiratory form: fever and severe respiratory problems
- cardiac form: fever and generalised swelling (oedema) around the
- mixed form: any combination of the above
- fever form: high temperature and mild symptoms (usually only in
donkeys and zebras)
virus identification on infected tissues at
post mortem
none effective
vaccines but not currently licensed in the UK
control and avoid midge exposure e.g stabling , fly sheets, insect
repellent, avoid stagnant water
Disease risks from abroad
With increasing movement of horses worldwide and climate change, diseases which are common in tropical and subtropical countries can be
found travelling north; demonstrated by the recent outbreaks of Bluetongue and Schmallenberg disease in the British farm animal population.
The threat of a devastating disease like African horse sickness entering the UK and killing a large proportion of the horse population is so real
that the government has already put regulations in place for managing a possible outbreak. Horse owners and veterinarians should be vigilant
and keep exotic diseases in their mind when dealing with a sick animal or sudden unexplained death. It is imperative that these situations are
recognised in the earliest possible stage and appropriate biosecurity measures are put into place to minimise spread.
The following is a very short summary of some of the important diseases that could strike the UK at any time.
West Nile Virus (WNV)
Disease causing agent
West Nile virus
mosquitoes transmit the virus usually from infected wild birds to non-
infected horses and/or humans
Signs you will see
fever, depression, neurological signs, e.g. paralysis
fatal in 30% of horses with clinical signs
detection of virus specific antibody on blood or cerebrospinal fluid
no specific treatment, only supportive care
control and avoid mosquitoes
two vaccines are licenced and available in the UK for high risk horses
and yards, particularly those travelling to affected parts of the world,
including some parts of Europe
A horse suffering from African
horse sickness showing fluid
swelling in the chest region.
West Nile virus can be transmitted
to horses via mosquitoes who
have fed on infected birds.
Plan. Prevent. Protect