November 7, Manama, Bahrain~ A ban on the movement of horses in Bahrain that was due to be lifted this month has been extended until March, 2012, according to the Gulf Daily News.
Municipal and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry livestock director Abdulrahman Shawqi Al Mannai confirmed two horses at the Dilmun Club stables had been put down after testing positive for glanders. “This news was very unlucky because the ban would have been lifted this month if these two cases hadn’t occurred, but we are working hard and transparently and according to EU standards to make sure that Bahrain is free from glanders by February-March next year,” he said.
“We urge all those who have moved their horses from one stable to another ahead of the ban being lifted to return them to their original stables. Should horse owners refuse to co-operate, the ministry will take legal action against them.”
The extension of the ban means local shows and competitions have been cancelled and horses will have to remain in their stables until next year.
Horse owner Jane Hughes, who keeps her animal in Saar, said news of the latest cases had been “devastating” for those involved in the equestrian scene.
“Many of the stables were hoping to hold shows and take part in endurance races but all these have had to be cancelled,” she said.
The Twin Palms Riding Centre in Saar has also been badly affected by the infection, which has forced horses, a donkey and a camel to be put down.
“Nothing has been in or out of the stables for over a year now,” said owner Anki Holmstorm. We cannot go hacking and until the ban is lifted, we are just waiting to see what happens.”
But owners who keep their horses in the south of Bahrain have not been affected by the disease, which originally broke out in Shakhura and Saar.
“My horses are safe and we haven’t had any contact with horses in the affected areas as neither I nor my horses go to stables on that side,” said Jameel Ibrahim who keeps his horses in Hawar Stables, near Sakhir.
Stables across Bahrain are continuing to impose strict measures to prevent the spread of the infection.
These include keeping horses in the stables, refraining from visiting other stables and touching other horses, using disinfectant solutions to clean stable entrances, individual boxes and human hands.
“The best thing that everybody can do at the moment is keep your horses in your stable, don’t visit other stables, don’t touch other horses, use disinfectants in front of your stable and also to disinfect your hands,” said the Stop Glanders in Bahrain page.
Bahrain had been free of glanders for six months, government officials said last June and co-operation from the community is paramount to ensuring the it does not break out again, said a spokeswoman for the Shakhura Stables.
“We have always had a policy of disinfecting before glanders even arrived in Bahrain,” she said.
“Any horses that come in must be blood tested by the government and the ministry is doing its job, but people have to co-operate with us as well.
Mr Al Mannai said any flouting of the ban should be reported immediately.
“If you see something and don’t say anything to the authorities, then this could have very harmful consequences,” he said.
“People must understand that this is out of our hands now, we must work together to control the movement of horses and get rid of this disease once and for all.”
The ban on the exportation of horses from Bahrain will only be lifted once consent has been granted from the European Union.
Its rules state a country must be completely free of glanders for a minimum of six months and must have evidence to prove it before it can be given the all-clear.
Symptoms of glanders include formation of nodular lesions in the lungs and ulceration of the mucous membranes in the upper respiratory tract.
The acute form results in coughing, fever and a highly infectious nasal discharge.
Death can occur within weeks, while survivors act as carriers and euthanasia is the only option.