Five Thai provinces now considered clear of deadly African horse sickness

A veterinarian vaccinating a pony against African Horse Sickness. © Dr Siraya Chunekamrai

The outbreak of African horse sickness has been resolved in five provinces in Thailand, authorities report, as efforts continue to eradicate the deadly disease.

Thailand’s Department of Livestock Development, in its 11th and most up-to-date advisory to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), says the outbreak is considered resolved in the provinces of Chaiyaphum, Sa Kaeo and Ratchaburi.

It has previously declared that Chonburi and Prachuap Khiri Khan are clear.

The country is working methodically to contain its first-ever outbreak of the insect-borne virus, which kills most of the horses it infects.

Measures to contain the outbreak, which began in February, include the establishment of surveillance and containment zones, quarantine, movement restrictions, disinfection, and other efforts to contain the biting midges responsible for the spread of the infection.

Stables have been enclosed in plastic or fine mesh and are being regularly fumigated in a bid to kill the biting insects and keep them away from horses.

Authorities have also administered nearly 6000 vaccines as part of control efforts, according to the report, some of which have been given to zebras.

The update also outlines the public-private partnership fighting the outbreak. It says the three common goals are eradication of the disease in Thailand, control measures on zebras and recovery of African horse sickness-free status from the OIE.

Strong collaboration between universities, government sectors and the private sector has been a crucial part of the plan.

There is a suspicion the disease was brought into the country through zebra importations.

Zebra imports into Thailand have not occurred since April 8.

Reports on the death toll range from 154 to estimates of more than 500 in local media accounts.

African horse sickness is endemic in sub-Saharan Africa.

Horses are considered the most susceptible, with nearly 90% dying if infected. It kills roughly half of infected mules and 10% of donkeys. However, infected African donkeys and mules rarely show signs of disease.

People in Thailand are required to report any sudden death or suspected cases to the Department of Livestock Development.

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