African Horse Sickness
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

I have 20 horses in Laikipia, central Kenya. It is a real hot spot for AHS and I have lost 4 horses in the last 10 months - all vaccinated. I am planning to build a new stable block that will be midge proof. Do you have any advice on design and materials that have proved successful?

Asked: 1/11/2007, 15:21 by Charlotte Roger-Smith.
Answered: 7/11/2007, 09:52 by Douglas Welsh, James Urry.

Research shows that midge proofing your stables with 80% shadecloth reduces the midge count inside 9 fold. We also now think that AHS is not caused by one infected midge bite but a bombardment of virus ( multiple bites) and therefore placing a barrier between the midge and horse will reduce this bombardment to a large extent.

My stables are open plan and I cover the front and all openings with shadecloth during outbreak time leaving a door which is also draped with shadecloth opened and closed to let the horses in and out. With your hot climate I would also suggest the same as it is still important to have air flow through the stables. Further I have fans in all the stables to circulate the air.

I know that this method works as I have a horse that suffers from sweetitch which is caused by the horse reacting to the saliva of the midge. Once the stables were covered with shade cloth the sweetitch problem was eliminated.

Further research shows that the biting time of the midge is after dark for the following reasons. Large animals which the midge seek for the blood meal tend to be immobile during the hours of darkness and can be located by the midge via the CO2 emissions and odour trail, the flight ability of a midge is very poor and during the hours of darkness the air is generally still.

Research shows that the peak biting time of the midge is from dusk to midnight tailing off thereafter. We tend to put our horses indoors from 3 pm and only out after 9 am. For many horse owners this is imposable but a good idea if you can.


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