Webinar explores key issues around African horse sickness, as disease kills horses in Thailand

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The first in a series of webinars on African horse sickness is now online, as part of efforts by the World Organisation for Animal Health to raise awareness and knowledge of the disease in Asia, as Thailand battles to contain an outbreak.

The first webinar focuses on clinical signs, transmission routes and prevention measures.

It also describes the experience from Thailand, where 192 horses across six provinces have died from the disease, which is carried by biting midges.

Measures to contain the disease include the establishment of surveillance and containment zones, quarantine, movement restrictions, disinfection, and other control measures to contain the biting midges responsible for the spread of the infection.

Strategies include major efforts to keep stabled horses away from the biting insects through the likes of disinfection, insecticide use, netting, blocking all conceivable holes in stables, and introducing double doorways.

Authorities are worried that the infection might hit working animals in the heavily populated areas around the capital, Bangkok.

To date, 94% of horses infected by the virus in Thailand have survived.

A live attenuated vaccine that covers the type-1 strain affecting Thailand has arrived in the country.

Authorities are understood to be weighing the benefits and risks of its use, which include the small chance that it might set off a mild version of the disease in some recipients, with the subsequent risk of viral spread through the midges that spread the disease.

Thailand is home to about 12,000 horses, ponies, mules, donkeys, and zebras.

The disease carries the risk that the midges might spread beyond the nation’s borders.

While midges with plenty of feed sources don’t travel far, migrations of up to 150km across land and 700km across water have been documented, supported by prevailing winds.

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