African Horse Sickness: Western Cape Death Toll Rises to 24

The number of equine deaths caused by African horse sickness (AHS) in South Africa's Western Cape has risen to 24, according to a report from the South African-based news website Eye Witness News. Authorities announced March 28 that in the previous 10 days, five more horses with confirmed or suspected AHS cases had perished.

report from Great Britain's Department for Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs indicated that the European Union banned the export of any horses from South Africa indefinitely on March 10.

According to the African Horse Sickness Trust, the total number of positive or suspect cases across Africa is currently around 500 for the 2010/11 active season. The total number of confirmed or suspect cases for 2009/10 was 85, and the total for 2008/09 was 236.

African horse sickness is a fatal viral disease spread by Culicoides--tiny, blood-sucking insects--that can affect horses, mules, and donkeys, as well as dogs and camels. Horses are most susceptible to AHS, with a 75-90% mortality rate. A vaccine is available, but no effective treatment methods exist for infected horses. For survivors, recovery is slow. will continue to provide updates as more information becomes available.

About the Author

Erica Larson, News Editor

Erica Larson, news editor, holds a degree in journalism with an external specialty in equine science from Michigan State University in East Lansing. A Massachusetts native, she grew up in the saddle and has dabbled in a variety of disciplines including foxhunting, saddle seat, and mounted games. Currently, Erica competes in eventing with her OTTB, Dorado.

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