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Harmonising diagnostic testing for glanders in equids
  1. Praveen Malik, MVSc, PhD, MBA, FNAVSc
  1. CCS National Institute of Animal Health, Ministry of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare, Baghpat 250609, India e-mail:

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GLANDERS is a contagious and fatal disease in horses, donkeys and mules. It has been defined as an infection with Burkholderia mallei. It is considered a potentially lethal and dangerous zoonosis in people with a fatal outcome if not treated in a timely manner (DeShazer and Waag 2004). In equids the disease is among the oldest known and was described towards the beginning of recorded history. Hippocrates (460-370 BC) reported clinical signs of the disease in around 425 BC. Almost 100 years later, Aristotle (384-322 BC) documented glanders in donkeys in Historia Animalium (VIII, 25) (Leclainche 1936). The disease was also named ‘malleus’, a Latin word meaning hammer or mallet, to describe the disastrous force with which the disease strikes horses. Although the disease has been eradicated from many western countries, it is still endemic in the developing world. Increasing numbers of glanders outbreaks throughout the Asian and South American continents have been reported recently (Hornstra and others 2009, Mota and others 2010, Khaki and others 2012, Malik and others 2012, 2015, World Animal Health Information Database 2016).

The disease causes nodules and ulcerations in the upper respiratory tract and lungs. About two centuries ago, a vivid and elaborate description of the disease was documented by Richard Vines (1830). From a clinician's perspective, glanders can be diagnosed based on classical clinical signs. However, clinicians should also consider differential diagnosis of glanders from other chronic infections in equids, …

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