Prophylactic strategies in the control of African horse sickness.
African horse sickness (AHS) is a non-contagious viral disease transmitted by an arthropod vector and is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa. The disease affects all equine species, but is more severe in horses and other equid species not native to Africa. Vaccination is the only demonstrated means of its prevention. The horse-owning public provides much anecdotal evidence of prophylactic strategies, such as repellents, stabling, alternate hosts, traps, paraffin, blankets, smoke or fans. The present study investigated the relationship of these strategies to the incidence of AHS, and evaluated alternate hosts, wind speed and repellents on the activity of males and females of the different Culicoides species.. Cypermethrin and citronella-containing repellents repelled the most female midges. Sheep and cattle offer an alternate blood meal to gravid and nulliparous female midges. Fans are very effective in keeping midges away from horses. Methods are summarised for the horse owner to implement in addition to vaccination to prevent AHS.
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