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Government launches vaccination program to fight African Horse Sickness

Jack Burton

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PHOTO: Reuters

The first outbreak of African Horse Sickness, aka. African Plague in Asia in half a century, has killed nearly 550 horses in Thailand, but authorities announced yesterday they’re winning the battle. The Department of Livestock Development says it’s speeding up blood tests on zebras nationwide, after experts identified an imported group as the source of the outbreak.

Some horse owners have threatened to sue the government over lax import rules they say led to the outbreak. As of Thursday, there had been no reported deaths from AHS for 4 consecutive days in any of the 12 provinces affected by the outbreak.

The virus, which is spread by midges, was first discovered on March 25 in Nakhon Ratchasima. More cases were subsequently found in Prachuap Khiri Khan, Chon Buri, Phetchaburi, Chaiyaphum, Ratchaburi, Sa Kaeo, Saraburi, Lop Buri, Ayutthaya, Nakhon Nayok and Chachoengsao.

Horses who contract AHS suffer listlessness, appetite loss, swollen eyes and fever above 38℃. And then, in many cases, death.

In April the government launched a national vaccination programme, aiming to vaccinate all horses within a 50 kilometre radius of known infection sites in the 12 provinces. Currently, 4,796 horses have been vaccinated out of a total 7,999 targeted vaccinations within the next 2 weeks

The outbreak has affected 2,260 horses, sickening 590 and killing 548, he added. Most of the fatalities were in Pak Chong district, Nakhon Ratchasima province, which has recorded 435 deaths, representing 79% of all deaths. The government has advised owners to protect their horses with midge nets.

The virus is not known to harm humans.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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Jack Burton is an American writer, broadcaster, linguist and journalist who has lived in Asia since 1987. A native of the state of Georgia, he attended the The University of Georgia's Henry Grady School of Journalism, which hands out journalism's prestigious Peabody Awards. His works have appeared in The China Post, The South China Morning Post, The International Herald Tribune and many magazines throughout Asia and the world. He is fluent in Mandarin and has appeared on television and radio for decades in Taiwan, Mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau.

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