African Horse Sickness Outbreak In Malaysia

Five horses in Malaysia have been diagnosed with African Horse Sickness; the disease had never been confirmed in the country until this outbreak. The horses lived in Terengganu, located in the eastern part of the Malay Peninsula. On September 2, Malay authorities reported the outbreak, noting that the horses had been exhibiting signs of the disease since early August. The horses had difficulty breathing, were lame and had a fever.

The source of the virus is not known. There are nine different serotypes of African Horse Sickness, each with a specific geographic distribution. Identifying the serotype may indicate from which region the virus originated. AHS is transmitted by biting midges and the disease tends to be seasonal; it’s generally associated with hot and humid weather.

The Malaysian outbreak follows on the heels of an AHS outbreak in Thailand, where 604 horses were affected and 562 died. Malaysia is approximately 550 miles from Thailand, but it is unknown if the occurrence in Malaysia is the from the movement of horses, the movement of infected vectors or is a new occurrence of the disease.

AHS affects all species of Equidae and the severity of clinical signs is dependent upon the virus strain and species affected. The fatality rate in horses can reach up to 90 percent. Though there is a commercial vaccine for AHS, none are approved for use in the European Union.

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