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UK Charity Calls for Help in Curbing Killer Equine Disease

LONDON, July 4/PRNewswire/ --

A UK charity is appealing for help in their efforts to halt the spread of a potentially deadly disease which is sweeping through the population of working animals in Ethiopia.

SPANA (Society for the Protection of Animals Abroad) has launched an appeal to purchase and run a second mobile clinic in Ethiopia.

This will be used to help fight a highly contagious and often fatal disease called Epizootic Lymphangitis which is affecting many thousands of working animals there every year. There are 2.75 million horses in Ethiopia along with the largest donkey population in Africa estimated at over 5 million.

The disease is contagious and caused by a fungal infection infecting mainly horses and mules. Cattle are also susceptible but cases are increasingly being seen in donkeys, indicating that the disease is spreading.

Up to15% of animals seen at the SPANA clinic in Debre Zeit have the disease, which has not been seen in the UK since the time of the Boer War. If a case is found in the UK, immediate destruction of the animal follows.

SPANA's mobile clinic will be used to treat more animals suffering from the early signs of this disease and before it becomes fatal.

Owners do not have the means to dispose of a carcass and so they abandon their animals leaving them to suffer a lingering and painful death. An infected animal also exposes the disease to the area for longer as it wanders the streets thus increasing the chances of it passing on the disease to other animals. SPANA's clinic will locate and humanely euthanase animals that are untreatable.

Director of Veterinary Services at SPANA, Karen Jones MRCVS

said: "We want to be able to educate more owners about spotting the early signs of this disease so that animals can be treated before they become terminally ill. We can also make them aware of how contagious this disease is and advise them of the importance of humanely destroying animals that cannot be treated. If they do not, there is a much greater likelihood of the disease being passed on to others. "

The disease flourishes where there is poor hygiene, as transmission occurs by flies feeding on open wounds and by even by through the use of shared grooming kits, harness, saddlery, utensils and even stables and shelters. Eruptions appear on the legs, the neck, the head, or any part of the body. Usually it starts near a wound through which the microbe has entered the tissues, but the ulcers often do not appear for months after the wound has healed.


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