Three yards belonging to horse dealers in Belgium are in isolation tonight following the discovery of a horse with Equine Infectious Anaemia (EIA or swamp fever).
The horse with swamp fever was an early part of the load of animals that travelled from Romania to Belgium and then on to Wiltshire where two horses were found to have the disease a fortnight ago.
Belgian authorities have been investigating since the two cases of swamp fever were discovered in horses belonging to a dealer in Wiltshire on 20 January.
Authorities have established that on 21 October 2009, 18 horses arrived from Romania at a dealer’s yard at Drongen, Belgium.
On 22 December, nine of these horses were sent to Wiltshire in the UK, where the infection was diagnosed in two equines a month later.
According to a report prepared by Newmarket’s Animal Health Trust (AHT), the Belgian investigation found that the nine horses remaining in the country were sold mid-November to one person at Assebroek. One of these horses was then sold on to this person’s brother at Meetkerke.
The AHT report, compiled for the International Collating Centre, states: “Currently no movements of horses to or from these facilities are permitted. All horses that have been in contact with the horses from Romania are being traced, movement controls applied on the farms and the animals tested for the infection.”
The EIA-positive horse is due to be euthanased and destroyed.
Movement restrictions are still in place on the yard in Wiltshire where the horses with swamp fever were found in January. Defra has confirmed to H&H that the 30 horses on site will be re-tested at 30, 60 and then 90 days before those restrictions are lifted.
We are still waiting for confirmation from Defra about what is being done to trace any horses that may have come in contact with the diseased animals after their arrival in Britain. The horses were in this country for a month before movement restrictions were imposed on the dealer’s yard.
Last week, Defra told us: “Epidemiological investigations are underway to assess all possible contacts and any associated potential risks. This risk assessment will inform any further action required.”
We will provide further updates tomorrow.