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Exercise Pegasus 2017

Report on an African Horse Sickness Simulation Exercise Conducted in 2017 and Involving Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden

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African horse sickness (AHS) is an acute insect-borne viral disease of horses and other equines causing depression, respiratory and circulatory impairment. The mortality rate may approach 100%. The disease is transmitted by midges. In 2007–2009 midges caused the spread of bluetongue in cattle and sheep in Northern Europe. The midges are also the main vector and transmitter of AHS and the disease may occur in horses in the Nordic Baltic region during summer or early autumn. Contingency plans covering AHS have been adopted by the Nordic Baltic countries. This report provides information on the preparatory work and the conduct of a simulation exercise. The aim of the exercise included testing of National AHS contingency plans and of the communication systems established between veterinary authorities in the Nordic and Baltic countries for animal disease emergencies.

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The horse population in the Nordic-Baltic region and animal health

Different breeds of horses have in the past evolved in the Nordic-Baltic countries depending on the environmental conditions and the use of horses. About 100 years ago horses were still vital in agriculture, industry, transport and the military; but the introduction of modern technology in many areas has replaced horses by machinery and equipment and reduced the horse population. However, today horses continue to be of economic importance in many countries in relation to sport activities, as companion (pet) animals, working animals and maintaining natural reservoirs. In general, the use of horses is more varied than may be anticipated at a first glance and during the past decade the number of horses per capita has remained relatively constant (Liljenstolpe, 2009). Within the area of sport, the International Equestrian Federation (FEI) organizes each year about 250 international competitions, which results in extensive transport of horses across country borders.

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