Glanders: Are Equine Olympic Athletes at Risk?

While the deadly disease is endemic in Brazil, animal health authorities say the Rio Games’ equestrian facility is safe.
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Glanders: Are Equine Olympic Athletes at Risk?
Brazilian authorities have declared the Olympic Equestrian Venue at Deodoro, the Rio de Janeiro International Airport, and the “virtual corridor” linking the two locations an Equine Disease Free Zone. | Photo Courtesy FEI/Renato Sette Camara/City Hall of Rio de Janeiro
A Wall Street Journal article alerted the American public to glanders’ threat to horses in Brazil just a week before the Rio 2016 Olympic Games opened.

And it’s not just a rumor. Glanders is indeed present—even endemic—in Brazil. But international competitors and their fans can feel reassured: The deadly and contagious equine respiratory disease is not present in the Rio 2016 Olympic Games equestrian venue, said officials involved in organizing the games and monitoring international animal health. According to authorities, the area has received official classification as an “equine disease-free zone,” thanks to stringent sanitary measures.

Brazilian authorities have declared the Olympic Equestrian Venue at Deodoro, the Rio de Janeiro International Airport, and the “virtual corridor” linking the two locations an Equine Disease Free Zone (EDFZ), said a spokesperson for the Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI). The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) has recognized this disease-free status.

“EDFZs are established in countries where equestrian events are staged but where it is not feasible to eradicate equine diseases in the entire country,” the spokesperson said

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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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