African horse sickness: how to spot and report the disease

How to spot African horse sickness, what to do if you suspect it and measures to prevent its spread.

Applies to England, Scotland and Wales

African horse sickness affects horses.

It doesn’t affect humans.

There has never been an outbreak in Great Britain.

African horse sickness is a notifiable animal disease. If you suspect it you must report it immediately by calling the Defra Rural Services Helpline on 03000 200 301. In Wales, contact 0300 303 8268. In Scotland, contact your local Field Services Office. Failure to do so is an offence.

How to spot African horse sickness

Signs of African horse sickness may include:

  • swelling and redness around the eyes and elsewhere on the face
  • frothing and discharge from nostrils
  • fever
  • slow and heavy breathing
  • coughing
  • swollen face

How African horse sickness is spread

African horse sickness is carried and spread by midges. It’s not spread directly between horses.

Preventing and controlling African horse sickness

You can help prevent disease by practising strict biosecurity on your premises.

If you report suspicion of African horse sickness APHA vets will investigate.

If African horse sickness is confirmed, the outbreak will be controlled in line with the contingency plan for exotic notifiable diseases and the African horse sickness control strategy.

Further information on prevention and control

Controls to prevent disease

What happens when a notifiable disease is suspected or confirmed

Legislation relating to African horse sickness

The main domestic legislation on African horse sickness is the African Horse Sickness (England) Regulations 2012

Updates to this page

Published 26 August 2014
Last updated 18 October 2018 + show all updates
  1. Contact details for suspecting a notifiable disease updated.

  2. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  3. AHVLA documents have been re-assigned to the new Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA).

  4. First published.

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