The American Association of Equine Practitioners (AAEP) has published on its website comprehensive guidelines to assist practitioners and regulatory agencies with identification, diagnosis, and control of African horse sickness (AHS), an internationally reportable disease of equids that is highly fatal.

Although AHS doesn’t occur in horses in the United States, a current outbreak in Thailand, with a 94% mortality rate, illustrates the devastation possible when the disease affects a naive horse population.

“The potential risk of introducing endemic or transboundary diseases into the country’s equine population cannot be overemphasized, either at the level of the practicing veterinarian or the horse-owning public,” said Peter Timoney, MVB, MS, PhD, FRCVS, professor and Frederick Van Lennep Chair in Equine Veterinary Science at the University of Kentucky’s Gluck Equine Research Center, in Lexington. “Failure to suspect the occurrence of such a disease could have major consequences, especially when dealing with a contagious disease or a vector-borne disease like African horse sickness.”

AHS is a noncontagious, insect-borne infectious disease of equids. It’s a highly important OIE-listed equine disease and a transboundary disease in the United States. As such, any suspicion of AHS is immediately reportable to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and State Animal Health Officials in all 50 states and territories.

“We must remain vigilant through the USDA’s strict testing of horses at points of entry into the U.S. and expand awareness among equine practitioners to prevent the potential detrimental effects of AHS and other endemic or transboundary diseases,” added Timoney. “The risk applies not only to horses but also to other equid species, specifically zebra, that are sought after for zoos and privately owned wildlife or safari parks.”

The African Horse Sickness Guidelines, available as a PDF file, were authored for the AAEP’s Infectious Disease Committee by Timoney. Abby Sage, VMD, Dipl. ACVIM, and the AAEP Infectious Disease Committee reviewed and edited the guidelines.View the African Horse Sickness Guidelines, or save them to your mobile device.