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Armageddon Disease Threatens To Wipe Out Hundreds Of British Horses

A disease described as the armageddon of animal infections could wipe out hundreds of British horses given its fatality rate coupled with the fact that there is no current effective vaccine.  

The insects which spread African Horse Sickness, also known as AHS have already entered the UK. There have already been outbreaks of bluetongue present in sheep, which is closely related to the AHS virus.

With the temperature on the rise in the UK and the lack of biosecurity measures when importing animals there is a risk that the disease could reach the UK.

The British Horse Society (BHS) has warned owners to be on the lookout for the virus.

Symptoms include:

  • swelling and redness around the eyes and elsewhere on the face

  • frothing and discharge from nostrils

  • fever

  • slow and heavy breathing

  • coughing

  • swollen face

A BHS guidance said: “With climate change and an increase in the international movement of horses there is a possibility that AHS could reach Britain, although the risk is not presently considered to be high.”

“However, were AHS to arrive on these shores it is imperative that it is spotted quickly in order that it can be dealt with rapidly and prevented from spreading.”

“It is possible that an AHS outbreak could occur in the UK if the virus were to be imported and, given the severe welfare and economic consequences of AHS, this would have devastating consequences to the naïve UK equine population.”

The UK does have a specific control strategy in place if the AHS virus were to break out.

People are concerned that many of the rare British horse breeds are already in danger and that facing the risk of the AHS virus is even more worrying.

The Equine Disease Coalition is currently working to find an improved vaccine.