January 4, 2012, Bahrain ~ According to Bharian’s Daily News, the Kingdom has been given an “all-clear” from the deadly equine disease, glanders.
No new cases have been reported for two months, not since two horses were put down after testing positive last November, according to Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry livestock director, Abdulrahman Shawqi Al Mannaie.
The ban will continue until March, but if any new cases arise between now and then, the ban would be extended.
“According to normal procedure dictated by the European Union, if any case is detected from now on, the ban has to be extended for another six months until the country is clear of the disease,” said Al Mannaie. “No cases have been discovered, but to be on the safe side we must continue to be strict. Now people are aware of the problem and co-operating with us.”
Mr Al Mannaie said legal action would be taken against any horse owner who refuses to co-operate.
The affected stables are in the north of the country, as the disease originally broke out in Shakhura and Saar. Local shows and competitions have been cancelled since the ban was imposed and horses will have to remain in their stables until the country is given the all-clear.
Horse owners are asked to keep horses in the stables, refrain from visiting other stables and touching other horses. The use of disinfectants is imperative to clean stable entrances, individual boxes and human hands and shoes.
More than 70 animals have been destroyed since glanders was first detected in April 2010. Bahrain had earlier been free of glanders for six months, government officials said last June, before the last cases were discovered in November.
The ban on the exportation of horses from Bahrain will only be lifted once consent has been granted by the EU. The rule state a country must be completely free from 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.
Glanders is a serious zoonotic bacterial disease that primarily affects horses, mules and donkeys. Some animals die acutely within a few weeks. Others become chronically infected, and can spread the disease for years before succumbing. Although human disease is uncommon, it is life threatening and painful. Without antibiotic treatment, the case fatality rate can be as high as 95%. Occasionally, glanders also occurs in other mammalian species, particularly members of the cat family.