Glanders: A Re-emerging Disease in the Middle East

While eradicated from the United States since the 1940s, glanders is re-emerging in some parts of the world.
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Glanders: A Re-emerging Disease in the Middle East
Clinical signs of chronic glanders in horses include coughing; weight loss; ulcers and nodules on the nasal mucosa; enlarged submaxillary lymph nodes; chronic enlargement and induration (hardening) of lymphatics and lymph nodes; joint swelling and painful leg edema (fluid swelling); and nodules, particularly on the legs, that rupture, release pus, and ulcerate. | Photo: Ulrich Wernery

Imagine an infectious disease that creates ugly ulcerations on your horse inside and out, leading directly to death or the need for euthanasia. Consider a disease so bad that during World Wars I and II nations reportedly used it in germ warfare to dismount cavalry regimens and sicken human populations. It’s like something out of an equine zombie apocalypse, only this disease–glanders–is very real and considered re-emerging in the Middle East.

Dr. habil. Ulrich Wernery, D.Med.Vet., scientific director at the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), discussed his experience with the during the 2012 International Conference on Equine Infectious Diseases, held Oct. 22-26 in Lexington, Ky.

While glanders has been eradicated from North American (last reported in the 1940s), Australia, and most of Europe, it’s recently been reported in South America, Eastern Africa, Asia, and the Middle East. Wernery said 16 Middle East countries (60%) have confirmed cases of glanders but noted that not all countries are willing to report cases. “We do not know the situations in Egypt, Sudan, or Saudi Arabia,” he said

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Michelle Anderson is the former digital managing editor at The Horse. A lifelong horse owner, Anderson competes in dressage and enjoys trail riding. She’s a Washington State University graduate and holds a bachelor’s degree in communications with a minor in business administration and extensive coursework in animal sciences. She has worked in equine publishing since 1998. She currently lives with her husband on a small horse property in Central Oregon.

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