Thailand hit by African horse sickness, over 100 horses killed

File photo of a horse. More than 100 horses have died from African Horse Sickness in Thailand. PHOTO ILLUSTRATION: UNSPLASH

BANGKOK (REUTERS) - More than 100 horses have died from African horse sickness (AHS) in Thailand, government data showed, in the South-east Asian country's first instance of the illness that affects only animals.

"This disease has just occurred in Thailand. We've never had it in the past," the director-general of the Department of Livestock Development, Mr Sorawit Thanito, said on Thursday (April 2).

The government has quarantined sick horses to limit the spread of the disease, Mr Sorawit said.

At least 131 horses have died across four provinces, latest government data showed.

"We have to investigate how this virus got to Thailand," he said, adding that the government was notified in late March of AHS in the country.

Horses suffering from the illness can have fevers of over 39 deg C, difficulty in breathing and bleeding in the eyes.

There have been no reported cases of AHS in humans and it was not related to the outbreak of the new coronavirus, Mr Sorawit said.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) suspended Thailand's status as an "AHS-free country" on March 27.

AHS is endemic in the central tropical regions of Africa, from whence it spreads regularly to Southern Africa and occasionally to North Africa, according to the OIE.

Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan had their AHS-free statuses suspended in 2018.

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