African Horse Sickness Hits Swaziland

Three horses from Swaziland are dead after contracting African horse sickness (AHS), according to a report from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). Swaziland is located in Southwest Africa.

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.

According to information received by the OIE from Dr. Roland Xolani Dlamini, director of Veterinary and Livestock Services at the Swaziland Ministry of Agriculture, on March 3, four cases of AHS have been diagnosed (either via clinical signs or necropsy) at one farm in Matsapha; three of the four died as a result of the disease. Surviving affected horses are being treated, mainly via supportive care, anti-inflammatory drugs, and antibiotics, the report said.

The OIE report stated that in late December 2011, all horses residing at the farm were vaccinated against the disease after the facility suffered an AHS outbreak in January 2011.

The OIE reports the farm will be quarantined and susceptible animals will be vaccinated in response to the outbreak. 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.

Stay on top of the most recent Horse Health news with FREE weekly newsletters from Learn More