H&H‘s charity of the year, Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad (SPANA), has launched a new campaign to try to treat and prevent deadly diseases in working equines.

The charity estimates that thousands of horses and donkeys are dying needlessly every year due to a lack of simple vaccinations and veterinary care.

The appeal is focused around three main diseases — African horse sickness (AHS), tetanus and epizootic lymphangitis (EZL).

EZL is a painful and contagious fungal disease that is affecting up to 30% of Ethiopia’s cart-horse population. Last year SPANA vets treated nearly 800 cases.

Highly infectious AHS is spread by insect bites and, in its acute form, is fatal in around 90% of cases.

Working animals are also particularly vulnerable to tetanus as they are exposed to cuts and scratches. Although the disease is usually fatal for infected animals, it is preventable through vaccination with just two injections.

Jeremy Hulme, chief executive of SPANA, said: “With so many of the diseases threatening working animals, a simple injection really can be the difference between life and death.

“Working animals are vital to many of the world’s poorest people. Their owners often rely completely on these animals — which do the jobs of tractors, trucks and taxis — for their livelihoods, and sometimes survival. By supporting our appeal, you will be helping to protect these animals and the families that depend on them.”

A £9 donation will vaccinate three donkeys against tetanus, £20 will enable the treatment of a horse with EZL and £45 will allow SPANA vets to treat an animal with African Horse Sickness.

> H&H’s Sophia Heath will visit Ethiopia later this month to witness firsthand the work that SPANA vets undertake.

> To donate visit www.spana.org

This news story was first published in H&H magazine (13 November 2014).