Prevention and control of African horse sickness in the Netherlands

African horse sickness is a serious threat to horses in North West Europe. APP is transmitted by midges. An outbreak will have major impact on society; 50-90% of the infected animals will die. Emergency vaccination is considered the most effective intervention, but there is no safe, effective vaccine available yet.

This project seeks to improve understanding of the risks of an outbreak of African horse sickness in the Netherlands, the possible control strategies and the necessary control measures.

Since 2011, a vaccine is under development in project BO-08-013-002. This project includes a quantitative analysis of practical methods to protect horses against midges (keeping the horse inside, insecticides). A mathematical model for the distribution of African horse sickness in the Netherlands has been developed to describe and evaluate the effectiveness of control measures. In particular, the reduction of the bite frequency can reduce proliferation of the disease. In 2011 a pilot field experiment took place, looking at host preference of midges and the effect of a special blanket on bite frequency. In May 2012 two more field experiments will take place.