Thousands of Working Equids Die in Influenza Outbreak

Official disease notification from Senegal and Nigeria indicate more than 40,000 cases have resulted in more than 3,000 equid deaths since mid-December.
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equine influenza
Tens of thousands of working equids in Western Africa have died in a sweeping equine influenza (EI) outbreak.

Official disease notification from Senegal and Nigeria to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) indicate more than 40,000 cases have resulted in more than 3,000 equid deaths since mid-December. However, other reports indicate case numbers in other countries, which haven’t submitted official notifications, could be skyrocketing even higher.

“We have received unofficial statistics of 62,000 deaths in Niger alone in donkeys and some horses presenting with symptoms like those we’ve seen in our country, which were confirmed cases of equine influenza,” said Mactar Seck, DVM, program manager at Brooke West Africa, in Dakkar, Senegal. Brooke West Africa is part of Brooke, a U.K.-based international animal welfare charity focusing on improving health and welfare for working horses, donkeys and mules.

As of May 2, Senegal, which has a working equid population of about 1 million, had reported 37,000 cases and 2,700 deaths to the OIE, but it has since recognized thousands more cases and the death toll has risen to more than 6,000, Seck said. The first equine influenza case in that country was reported only six weeks ago, on March 26

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Passionate about horses and science from the time she was riding her first Shetland Pony in Texas, Christa Lesté-Lasserre writes about scientific research that contributes to a better understanding of all equids. After undergrad studies in science, journalism, and literature, she received a master’s degree in creative writing. Now based in France, she aims to present the most fascinating aspect of equine science: the story it creates. Follow Lesté-Lasserre on Twitter @christalestelas.

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