Swamp fever horse disease in Devon has not spread

A rare disease which led to a horse being put down in Devon has not been passed on to two other horses which lived on the same premises.

Vets tested them after the horse caught equine infectious anaemia (EIA).

The disease can be transmitted through the exchange of blood by biting insects and occurs typically in swampy areas.

Only a few cases of the disease have been recorded in the UK over the past 30 years. It can affect donkeys and mules and can be fatal.

Negative results

In January, two imported horses in Wiltshire were destroyed after testing positive for EIA and a horse imported into Northumberland from the Netherlands was put down in September.

The Devon premises, which have not been identified, were placed under restriction by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the restrictions are set to remain in place for the next three months when the animals will be tested again.

Nigel Gibbens, Defra Chief Veterinary Officer, said: "Minimising the risk of spread has been Defra's primary concern from the outset.

"Our assessment is that the risk is very low as the horse had only recently become ill.

"From this time it has presented a risk of spread only to other horses kept within 200m - biting flies are very unlikely to fly further than this.

"We have been checking for other horses in the area and will contact any owners that we identify."

The horse which was put down had been in the UK for two years but only became ill recently.

Defra said EIA posed no danger to humans and there was no evidence that this outbreak presented a risk to the local community.

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