Dr Jane Hastie nee Nixon MRVS
The UK National Risk Register was updated in August 2023. Previously the only animal disease on the register was Foot and Mouth Disease , although African Horse Sickness [AHS] has long been a notifiable disease in the UK.
Three more notifiable animal diseases have been added to the register :
African Swine Fever, Avian Flu and African Horse Sickness.
To View the HM Govt National Risk Register 2023 Click HERE or the picture to see the full Register. Details of AHS may be found on page 169.
AHS is a potential huge risk to the UK , as it may effect all equestrians’ mental state , pocket and every socio-economic group.
AHS is endemic in sub Saharan Africa , together with many other countries. Although Spain is currently free of AHS , it has been of very serious consequence in the recent past , causing fatalities in very large numbers of horses.
There are currently no cases in the UK , but if it arrives there will be :-
Cessation International equine trade and AHS free status will not be achieved until 2 years after the last confirmed case.
150km radius movement restriction
Vaccine is available , in small quantities , being demand dependent , with variable efficacy , and it’s rollout is controlled by DEFRA.
The disease is spread through biting midges from horse to horse and to dogs by consumption of affected horses.
AHS is 90% fatal through pneumonia , cardiac failure and death.
The initial clinical signs are malaise, swollen head and eyes , followed by a frothy nasal discharge and recumbency.
The risk is from increased circulation midges due to global warming and importation of equines from South Africa with sub standard quarantine procedures. Three years ago a number of Zebras were imported to Thailand from SA without quarantine. As a result the equine population of Thailand was ‘wiped out’ and the disease spread to a number of adjacent countries.
AHS is difficult to control , so clinical vigilance is extremely important . If you have the slightest concern re anything other than rigorous quarantine of imports , or you see a potential case , please contact the horse’s home vet immediately.