Thailand Hit by African Horse Sickness, 42 Horses Dead

Definitively identified by Thai veterinarians on March 27, this represents the first outbreak of AHS outside the African continent in more than 30 years.
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Thailand Hit by African Horse Sickness, 42 Horses Dead
A fatal viral disease spread by various vectors including Culicoides–tiny, blood-sucking midges—and certain mosquitoes, AHS affects horses, mules, and donkeys and potentially dogs and camels. | Photo: Courtesy World Horse Welfare

An outbreak of African Horse Sickness (AHS) in Thailand has caused at least 42 horse deaths out of 62 cases as of March 30, according to Thailand Equestrian Federation (TEF) reports. In response, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) has suspended the country’s AHS-free zone status.

Definitively identified by Thai veterinarians on March 27, this represents the first reported outbreak of AHS outside the African continent and Yemen in more than 30 years. In the late 1980s, the disease spread to Spain and Portugal, presumably via a herd of zebras imported into a Spanish zoo, and led to more than 3,000 deaths of primarily riding horses.

A fatal viral disease spread by various vectors including Culicoides–tiny, blood-sucking midges—and certain mosquitoes, AHS affects horses, mules, and donkeys and potentially dogs and camels. Horses are most susceptible to AHS, with a 75-90% mortality rate, said Polly Roy, MSc, PhD, FMedSci, professor of virology at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, where her team is developing vaccines based on reverse genetics and proteins

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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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