Two cases of glanders in Brazil

A horse with cutaneous nodules of glanders on the legs.
A horse with cutaneous nodules of glanders on the legs. © University of Zagreb

Two cases of glanders in horses have been reported by Brazilian authorities to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

Glanders is an infectious disease caused by the bacterium Burkholderia mallei.

It is primarily a disease affecting horses, but it also affects donkeys and mules and can be naturally contracted by goats, dogs, and cats.

Human infection has occurred rarely and sporadically among laboratory workers and those in direct and prolonged contact with infected, domestic animals. Although human disease is uncommon, it is life threatening and painful.

In a May 22 report to the OIE, a senior agriculture official, Dr Figueiredo Marques Guilherme Henrique, reported the outbreak in Varzelândia, Minas Gerais. The date of the start of the outbreak was listed as April 2.

Henrique said the outbreak was detected following movement control activities carried out by the Official Veterinary Services.

One horse, in Montes Claros, Minas Gerais, returned a positive test.

The animal died from a snake bite before an additional test could be performed, he said. The animal was buried on the farm.

The Official Veterinary Services conducted investigations on the neighbouring farms and on farms linked to the property of the positive horse.

Clinical inspections were performed and samples were taken from two animals with suggestive respiratory signs.

One sample, from a mare in a farm in the municipality of Varzelândia, Minas Gerais, was positive for the disease. The animal was destroyed on the farm under the supervision of the Official Veterinary Services.

Surveillance and clinical inspections of animals that were in contact with the sick animal, as well as investigations in order to identify the source or origin of the disease, are being conducted.

To date, there have been no signs of the disease in other animals.

Glanders was eradicated from most countries by the mid-1900s.

Outbreaks are now uncommon and reported from limited geographic areas.

It is endemic in Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and Central and South America.


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