An introduction of African Horse Sickness in the Netherlands; what to expect?

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingAbstract


African horse sickness (AHS) is a non-contagious, vector-borne disease of equines. The effects of the disease can be devastating and mortality rates may exceed 90%. AHS is endemic in sub-Saharan territories and East Africa. As a consequence of its severity and its ability to expand rapidly out of its endemic areas AHS is an OIE listed and regulated disease. Intervention measures are mainly based on the use of emergency vaccination and the installation of movement restriction zones. AHS virus is closely related to the Bluetongue (BT) virus and is spread principally by midges of the same species that transmit BT virus in ruminants. Following the expansion in 2006 of BT virus infection to the more temperate regions of Europe, concerns regarding the risk of AHS outbreaks transmitted by these midges into Europe are increased. With an estimated number of 450,000 horses (or 11 horses/km2), the Netherlands is one of the most densly horsepopulated countries in Europe. Main motivation for keeping horses is a passion for equestrianism as the majority of the Dutch horse population is kept for non-profit, recreational purposes. Only a minority (10%) of the horse premises is commercially managed, housing more than 60% of the horses. An outbreak of AHS is expected to result in large financial impacts and substantial social disruptions within the Dutch society. The aim of this research is to assess the potential socio-economic impact of an AHS epidemic and its control by quantifying the financial consequences of the primary stakeholders. Depending on the severity of the outbreak (0.5-2% of premises infected) and time needed to regain the AHS free status (27-38 months), total direct control costs ranged from €101 million till €232 million. Consequential losses exceeded the direct costs (ranging from €171 million to €284 million) and were mainly a consequence of applied movement restrictions, affecting primarily commercial stables. Training/sports stables were affected most, facing losses of more than €76,000 per stable.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBook of Abstracts of the 13th International Symposium on Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics, Belgium, Netherlands
Publication statusPublished - 2012
EventISVEE13 - Maastricht, Netherlands
Duration: 20 Aug 201224 Aug 2012



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