Possible Equine Anthrax Outbreak in India

According to a Feb. 23 ProMED-mail post, Kashmir, India, could be experiencing an equine anthrax outbreak.

In late December 2003, an India Times article reported that, "Veterinarians here have raised alarm over the spread of anthrax amongst livestock. Over 135 horses from a state-run stable have died due to the deadly disease. The numbers are rising." According to the article, the fatalities were among those horses impounded by Kashmir's forest department during the prior six months as part of a drive against animal smugglers. Most of the animals had no vaccination records.

The anthrax agent is a resilient spore-forming bacterium called Bacillus anthracis, which lives in the ground. Livestock ingest B. anthracis when they forage close to the ground during drought, or when they eat feed grown on infected soil. Horses seem to be more resistant to anthrax than other livestock species, such as sheep or cattle. An anthrax vaccine is available for use in areas where livestock owners feel their animals are at risk.

"Doctors have called for an immediate antibiotic treatment for the herd, besides urging authorities to ensure proper disposal of the carcasses," said the India Times article.

According to the ProMed moderator, anthrax has been "known in the northwest corner of the Indian subcontinent, but seldom reported." ProMed officials said they currently lack laboratory confirmation of anthrax in this situation and are attempting to gather more complete information on the possible outbreak.


About the Author

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief, received a B.A. in Journalism and Equestrian Studies from Averett College in Danville, Virginia. A Pony Club and 4-H graduate, her background is in eventing, and she is schooling her recently retired Thoroughbred racehorse, Happy, toward a career in that discipline. She also enjoys traveling, photography, cycling, and cooking in her free time.

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