The AustralAsian epizootic news story continues today with the reporting of a large outbreak of Equine Influenza (EI or “horse flu”) in China, near the border of Kazakhstan. Jia Youling, National Chief Veterinary Officer of the People’s Republic of China has reported more than 5500 cases in the province of Xinjiang to the World Organisation for Animal Health. This is China’s first outbreak in 13 years.
As many as 130,000 horses are at risk of infection in the counties of Altay, Burqin, Fuhai, Fuyun, Habahe, Jemnay and Qinghe, Youling said in the report. Xinjiang province borders Kazakhstan, Russia and Mongolia.
Fear of disease outbreaks in China was one reason why the 2008 Olympic equestrian sports will not be held on the mainland; they will be on the island of Hong Kong to protect international horses from Chinese horse diseases.
The Harbin Veterinary Research Institute published a report in which they found the outbreak was caused by the H3N8 strain of flu, which isn’t usually fatal for animals or dangerous to people. However, there is always a risk of mutation and the recent EI outbreaks in Japan, Singapore, Australia and now China are giving the world animal health statiticians something to ponder.