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African horse sickness is a fatal disease. It affects horses, mules, donkeys and zebras. It is a notifiable disease.

First published:
14 November 2018
Last updated:

It has never occurred in the UK, but is found in Southern Africa.

Suspicion and confirmation

Contact your local Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) office immediately on 0300 303 8268 if you suspect African horse sickness.

APHA vets will investigate suspected cases.

Clinical signs

The following clinical signs may be present:

  • high fever
  • severely laboured breathing
  • coughing and discharge from the nostrils
  • swellings over the head and eyelids, lips, cheeks and under the jaw
  • fever with low temperature in the morning, rising in the afternoon

Transmission and prevention

The disease is spread by:

  • midges, which favour warm, moist weather and high rainfall
  • wind dispersal

No vaccine for African horse sickness is currently licensed in the European Union (EU).