Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Bahrain: Glanders Strikes Again - Full Article

By Anasuya Kesavan
Posted On » October 19 - 25, 2011 (Volume:10 / Issue 42)

Glanders, the equine disease which has devastated the kingdom’s equestrian community and looked close to being eradicated from the kingdom’s shores, has reared its ugly head again.

Two horses from the Dilmun Stables in Saar have tested positive to the killer bacterial infection and the results are awaited on the condition of a third pony following an inconclusive finding.

The movement ban on horses across the island has been extended for another four months and the endurance horse riding competition planned as part of the GCC Games’ eleven disciplines was swiftly withdrawn from the Bahrain 11 programme of events which have been reduced to 10.

Whilst there are conflicting reports over the numbers of horses and ponies destroyed after testing positive to glanders, officials state ‘more than 70’ horses have had to be put down since the outbreak in early 2010.

Over the summer it appeared that the battle against glanders was being won, after three rounds of testing involving every horse and pony on the island came through as ‘negative’ ... until just a few weeks ago.

Experts say that testing in the immediate area will have to continue and the chances are that Bahrain will not be officially declared ‘glanders free’ for at least another 14 months because international authorities demand a six-month period of grace after all retests have returned negative ... provided no new cases are discovered in the meantime.

The disease, caused by the highly-infectious bacterium burkholderia mallei, occurs primarily in horses and can stay dormant from three weeks to eight months, or in rare cases even longer.

Strict measures were introduced across Bahrain following the first outbreak and popular show jumping events were cancelled. At the time the Dilmun Stables introduced some of the most stringent measures in the kingdom in an attempt to keep the facilities free of the disease.

However, the stable team’s best efforts were in vain after two horses tested positive last month and were subsequently put down.

The blood samples were sent to the Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL) in Dubai – one of the only two authorised laboratories in the world certified by the Office International des Epizooties – World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in Paris for testing glanders.

Dr Ulrich Wernery, scientific director of CVRL, said: “In Bahrain we have tested 4,000 horses and donkeys twice. The third round of testing was coming to an end when sadly the two horses tested positive...

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