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Keywords:

  • horse;
  • African horse sickness virus;
  • real-time RT-PCR;
  • subclinical infection;
  • prospective study;
  • vaccination

Summary

To determine whether subclinical cases, together with clinical cases, of African horse sickness (AHS) occur in immunised horses in field conditions, whole blood samples were collected and rectal temperatures recorded weekly from 50 Nooitgedacht ponies resident in open camps at the Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Pretoria, Onderstepoort, during 2008–2010. The samples were tested for the presence of African horse sickness virus (AHSV) RNA by a recently developed real-time RT-PCR. It was shown that 16% of immunised horses in an AHS endemic area were infected with AHSV over a 2 year period, with half of these (8%) being subclinically infected. The potential impact of such cases on the epidemiology of AHS warrants further investigation.