Among the symptoms of African Horse Sickness are fever, sweating, breathing difficulties, discharge from the nose, and swelling of the eyes and/or head.
Its appearance in Britain could spell the death knell for horse racing and all other forms of equestrian sport.
Climate change has been allowing the disease, which can kill 90 per cent of the horses it infects, to spread ever closer to Britain.
British and European horse populations are considered highly vulnerable to the lethal disease.
The Horse Trust says a similar midge-borne disease called Bluetongue has already seriously affected sheep and cattle on mainland Europe. Bluetongue could reach Britain this year.
The Trust is calling on the Government to:
"African Horse Sickness is related to Bluetongue and is spread by the same midge (Culicoides species). It can kill up to 90% of the horses it infects."
The Trust acknowledges that horses are a low priority for the Department of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, which would be responsible for managing and controlling any outbreak.
Because of this, The Horse Trust will spearhead:
Research institutes and vaccine manufacturers are already working to develop more effective and safe cattle and sheep vaccines for Bluetongue.
Infected midges can be blown by the wind for more than 100km and transported long distances in farm vehicles.
African Horse Sickness was diagnosed in Spain in 1987-90 and in Portugal in 1989, but was eradicated using slaughter policies, movement restrictions, vector eradication and vaccination. Were AHS to break out in Europe again, under current vector and climate conditions it is inevitable that it will have a much greater opportunity to establish itself - including in Britain.
Although the disease is notifiable in Britain and Europe, a British slaughter policy is unlikely to be viable once the disease is established in the midge vector population.
The British and European horse population is considered highly vulnerable to the disease, with vaccines that currently exist being either unavailable or unlicensed. Some are unsuitable for use where the disease is not endemic.