Workshop Aims to Reduce Disease Impact on Working Equids

Workshop Aims to Reduce Disease Impact on Working Equids

More than 100 million horses, donkeys, and mules labor daily in developing countries worldwide, many of them supplying crucial income to individuals, families, and entire communities.

Photo: Stephanie L. Church, Editor-in-Chief

More than 100 million horses, donkeys, and mules labor daily in developing countries worldwide, many of them supplying crucial income to individuals, families, and entire communities. So when these animals get sick, they aren’t the only ones who suffer—their owners and business partners do, too. Next week 35 researchers, veterinarians, working animal welfare organization representatives, and other individuals—including The Horse’s editor—will convene in Addis-Ababa, Ethiopia, Nov. 18-22 at the First International Havemeyer Foundation Workshop on Infectious Diseases of Working Horses and Donkeys to find ways to reduce impact of diseases on this population of animals.

“Working equids contribute to food security, rural development, poverty alleviation, and gender equity,” noted workshop organizers in their introduction to participants. “However, working equids suffer particularly from prevalent infectious diseases, and diseases associated with poor management practices.”

Paul Lunn, BVSc, MS, PhD MRCVS, Dip. ACVIM, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine at North Carolina State University and member of the workshop’s organizing committee, added, “In addition to the clear welfare implications of infectious disease in this equine population, there are enormous socioeconomic implications of infectious disease in an equine population that provides for the financial security of much of the world’s population.

Through sharing of knowledge and experience, the organizers said they hope the group “can arrive at solutions to some of the problems that affect the health, welfare, and productivity of working equids.”

The Dorothy Russell Havemeyer Foundation, title sponsor of the workshop, is a private foundation that conducts scientific research to improve the general health and welfare of horses. One of the organization’s current focuses is the area of infectious diseases. Noted its website, “The Foundation sponsors workshops such as the current one related to its research projects when it determines, in consultation with its principal investigators, that there are enough new findings on a subject to warrant such an event.”

Additional sponsors include the Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), The Brooke, and The Donkey Sanctuary.

Delegates will share information on a variety of topics, ranging from background on working equids and livelihoods and viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic pathogens, to surveillance, reporting, and regulatory policies and strategies for controlling disease. They will tour various academic entities and the SPANA and The Donkey Sanctuary Clinics.

Stephanie L. Church, editor-in-chief of The Horse and TheHorse.com is among the delegates, and will be collecting information, images, and take-homes from the workshop. “Dr. Lunn is very familiar with my interest in helping working equids in Africa and the families who rely on them,” she said. “When he sent the invitation earlier this year, I jumped at the opportunity to be involved and look forward to combining my interests in horse health and welfare and humanitarian efforts.”

Watch TheHorse.com and our Facebook page for updates from the workshop.

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