Agri Hour

African horse sickness and the impact thereof

───   05:00 Tue, 23 Nov 2021

African horse sickness and the impact thereof  | News Article

OFM News' Lee Simmons speaks to the managing director (MD) of the South African Equine Health and Protocols (SAEHP), Adrian Todd, about African Horse Sickness, otherwise known as AHS and its affects.

See PODCAST below

Todd says that AHS is an orbivirus that affects horses. He explains that the virus is transmitted by hematophagous arthropods of the Culicoides. Subsequently, the virus is most prevalent at the time of year and in areas where the vector is most abundant, namely in late summer rainfall areas of sub-Saharan Africa. Heavy rainfall followed by hot, dry weather favours the occurrence. 

“It’s quite a serious disease but there’s a number of control measures and risk mitigations in place in South Africa,” says Todd. 

He mentions that the disease is not contagious among horses but rather that the disease is most often spread by midges or gnats. These are tiny two-winged flying insects or flies. 

According to Todd, AHS is considered endemic to tropical and subtropical areas of Africa, south of the Sahara, extending to the south to South Africa, among others. 

He says that one of the advantages of the disease is that it cannot spread from one horse to the other but that only a gnat can spread the disease among horses. Todd also mentions that once the horse or horses are infected, veterinary help is required and that horse owners will not be equipped to cure the horses naturally. 

In the endemic parts of the country the best and most important aspect of the disease is the vaccine and getting horses vaccinated against this disease, which has a 95% mortality rate, adds Todd. 

He concludes by saying that this disease is not something that can be treated at home.

OFM News/Lee Simmons

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