The Delhi government is set to notify the city as a “controlled area” after 32 more horses were diagnosed with the potentially fatal equine glanders disease. Last December, the government had banned the movement of equines in the west district for three months, after seven animals tested positive for the disease at the Sanjay Gandhi Animal Care Centre in Raja Garden.
According to Development Minister Gopal Rai, the government will issue an advisory which will also apply to the movement of horses participating in the Republic Day parade. A senior doctor from the animal husbandry department said, “So far, no infection has been found in any of the horses participating in Republic Day.”
Once Delhi is declared a “controlled area”, there will be a ban on movement of all equines — horses, donkeys, mules — from outside the city and vice-versa, Rai said. Around 2,000 samples from horses were sent to the National Research Centre on Equines (NRCE) in Hisar, of which results for 1,000 have been received. “Of the 1,000 samples, 32 were found positive. The infection has been reported from 11 areas in Delhi. We will soon issue a notification to declare Delhi a controlled area. In these 11 areas, movement of horses will be restricted to within a 5-km radius,” Rai said.
The minister said the government is also taking samples from people who had come in contact with the affected animals. He added that a sample of horses from the Army was sent to a facility in Meerut for testing. Rai held a meeting with top officials from the Centre, Delhi government, Army and police, and doctors from three municipal corporations and the New Delhi Municipal Council.
Officials said the notification will be followed by advertisements in the media to make people aware and take precautions.
While there are only 2,694 horses in the national capital, an official said, “The disease is infectious and in the case of horses, leads to death. But it can also be contracted by humans.” The infection is caused by the bacterium Burkholderia mallei, usually by ingestion of contaminated feed or water. Symptoms include the formation of nodular lesions in lungs and ulcers in the respiratory tract. Acute cases result in coughing, fever, and can lead to septicaemia.