African Horse Sickness (AHS)
African Horse Sickness (AHS) is an infectious disease that can affect all species of equidae.
AHS is carried and transmitted by Culicoides midges. Culicoides is a common UK midge and is thought to be responsible for causing sweet itch in horses. AHS has not been seen in the UK.
Once a horse has been bitten by a carrier midge, the incubation period of AHS is usually seven to 14 days, but may be as short as two days.
Although AHS is not directly contagious (ie it is not transmitted directly between horses), it can remain in infected horses for a few weeks, enabling it to be transferred via blood-sucking midges or even contaminated hypodermic needles.
There is no effective treatment.
Currently Europe is free from AHS. The disease has been recorded previously in Spain in 1966, 1987-90 and Portugal in 1989.