SOUTH AFRICAN EQUINE VETERINARY ASSOCIATION (SAEVA) WORKSHOP ON VETERINARY SUPPORTIVE TREATMENT OF AFRICAN HORSE SICKNESS

Posted: 25/3/2012, 12:19

African horse sickness (AHS) is a non-contagious, infectious, insect-borne viral disease of equids characterised by fever, oedema of the lungs and subcutaneous tissues, transudation into body cavities and serosal haemorrhages. The mortality rate in immunologically naive horses may be as high as 90%, with donkeys and mules being less susceptible. African horse sickness virus (AHSV) replicates in and injures microvascular endothelial cells.  Endothelial injury and activation of monocyte/ macrophages results in capillary leakage, haemorrhage, inflammation and disseminated intravascular coagulation. Four clinical forms of AHS have been described; a peracute ‘dunkop’ or pulmonary form, a subacute ‘dikkop’ or cardiac form, a ‘mixed’ cardiopulmonary form and a mild fever form. The clinical signs of AHS may be confused with those of equine encephalosis. Recently polymerase chain reaction (PCR) has become available as a rapid diagnostic technique to confirm infection with AHSV. There is no specific curative therapy for AHS and supportive therapy is usually administered.

A workshop for veterinarians attending the annual SAEVA Congress was held on Sunday 12 February 2012. The goal of the workshop was to discuss and document supportive treatment options used by veterinarians treating AHS cases, with focus on the scientific rationale for treatment, scientific evidence supporting efficacy and safety of the treatment, AHS-specific data available, and reach agreement on whether the treatment was considered justified as veterinary supportive treatment for AHS or not. The workshop was attended by a total of 34 veterinarians from Southern Africa, various international delegates and representation by the AHS Trust.

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