After a gap of 11 years, Glanders, an equine infection that has a high mortality rate among horses, has been reported in Maharashtra. Kantilal Umap, commissioner, Animal Husbandry department, said positive cases of the disease have been identified in Ahmednagar, Thane, Akola and Satara, and four horse deaths have been recorded.
The first positive case was found in April, when one of the samples taken from Ahmednagar during routine sample collection confirmed the presence of bacterium Burkholderia Mallei, the pathogen causing the disease. Since then, samples from Thane, Akola and Satara’s Panchgani have tested positive. An infection affects mainly horses, mules and donkeys. The symptoms include nodules and ulcers on the skin and severe coughing, among others. In some cases, the affected animal dies within a few days while in others, infected animals can live for years, spreading the infection further. Contaminated feed and water is a major mode through which the infection spreads.
There is no vaccine to prevent this disease. Proper disposal of the carcass is recommended to stop the infection from spreading further. Glanders was last reported in Maharashtra in 2006. On measures being taken to contain the spread of the disease, Umap said the surveillance of animals within a 5-kilometre radius of the infected animals has been increased. More than 1,500 samples have been collected and a close watch is being kept on the movement of animals, he said. Horse owners whose animals have tested positive are being medically examined.
The news of the infection comes at the start of the racing season in July. Khushroo N Dhunjibhoy, member of the managing committee of the Royal Western India Turf Club Limited, said they had received information about cases of Glanders from the Animal Husbandry Commissionerate.
“Our horses are all stationed in Pune and generally do not travel outside,” he said. Dhunjibhoy said that they ensure health certification of horses before they are allowed in Pune and till date, there has been no cases of Glanders in the race course.
A veterinarian associated with the Pune Race Course said, “The disease is commonly found in horses and mules. Stopping transportation of animals is the most effective method to stop the infection from spreading.”
In the last few years, sporadic outbreak of the disease has been reported from Uttar Pradesh, Gujarat and Rajasthan. Last year, the disease had caused the death of 57 animals across India.