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AFRICAN horse sickness (AHS) is an insect-transmitted, non-contagious disease of equids caused by African horse sickness virus (AHSV), with a mortality of up to 95 per cent in immunologically naive horses (Guthrie and Quan 2009). Since the AHS outbreaks in Spain and Portugal between 1987 and 1990 (Lubroth 1988, Rodriguez and others 1992), the disease has not occurred in Europe. Recently, the disease is reported to have spread as far north as Morocco and the Middle East (Defra 2013). In a paper summarised on page 152 of this issue of Veterinary Record, Diouf and others (2012) describe an outbreak of AHS caused by AHSV-2 in Senegal, and discusses several aspects of control and prevention. What can we, here in Europe, learn from this study?
Senegal lies in West Africa and is slightly smaller than the UK; it has a much smaller human population density, and also a smaller horse population. However, if we take into account that hardly any horses live in the southern and south-eastern part of Senegal because of trypanosomosis (Diouf and others 2012), the horse density in Senegal is more or less comparable to that of the UK.
In 2007, AHSV-9 was already endemic in Senegal and the equine population was regularly vaccinated with a locally produced monovalent vaccine. In their paper, Diouf and others (2012) suggest three hypotheses for the introduction of AHSV-2 into Senegal in 2007: fraudulent horse importation from countries where AHSV-2 is present; illegal or fraudulent movement of horses from neighbouring countries; …
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