An African horse sickness (AHS) outbreak that emerged in Pak Chong district of Nakhon Ratchasima recently, killing at least 433 horses, has now spread to neighbouring Saraburi province.
At least 28 horse deaths in Saraburi have been attributed to AHS, a highly infectious and deadly disease, Saraburi Livestock Development officials have said.
The department has provided vaccines to horses in 58 out of 76 farms in the province, which in total accounts for 70% of the 685 registered horses.
Saman Pathon, owner of Ban Rai Saman Farm in tambon Tha Ma Prang, said his horses began dying earlier this month and so far 10 of them had died while another horse was still sick.
He said he keeps 24 horses and that they are usually used to teach autistic children to ride. Moreover, some of them are also hired out to be used for film shootings.
He said he has now covered his horse stables with nets to prevent insects carrying AHS virus from biting the animals as recommended by local livestock development authorities who visited his farm after he had alerted them about the recent deaths. Insects carrying the virus can fly for more than 100 kilometres, he said, adding that he believed the outbreak came from Nakhon Ratchasima.
Somkit Thutisungnoen, a local assistant livestock development officer in Saraburi, said AHS infections have been reported in Saraburi's Kaeng Khoi, Muak Lek, Phra Phutthabat, Chalerm Prakiat, Nong Don, and Nong Saeng districts.
Saraburi's livestock development office has not yet reported the actual number of horses infected by AHS virus or the death toll, he said.
Phasawi Somchai, chief livestock development officer of Nakhon Ratchasima, said his teams are collecting horse blood specimens for AHS screening.
So far, 877 out of the 1,161 remaining horses in Pak Chong have been vaccinated as the virus has already claimed the lives of 433 horses in the district, he said.