SURRA is a highly contagious and fatal disease that affects equines such as horses, donkeys, and mules.
It is caused by a protozoan parasite called Trypanosoma evansi, which is transmitted through the bite of blood-sucking insects such as flies, ticks, and mosquitoes.
In South Africa, SURRA is a notifiable disease, which means that it must be reported to the authorities as soon as it is suspected. This is crucial because of the severe economic impact it can have on the equine industry, both locally and internationally. In this blog post, we will discuss everything you need to know about SURRA, including the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. We will also cover the current import regulations in South Africa to help you understand the necessary precautions you need to take to prevent the spread of this disease.
1. What is SURRA in Equines?
SURRA, also known as surra fever, is a parasitic disease that affects equines such as horses, donkeys, and mules. It is caused by a protozoan parasite called Trypanosoma evansi, which is transmitted through the bite of infected insects such as horse flies and mosquitoes. The disease is prevalent in many countries in Asia, Africa, and South America, and can cause significant economic losses due to decreased productivity and mortality rates.
The symptoms of SURRA in equines can vary depending on the severity of the infection, but can include fever, anemia, weight loss, and swelling of the limbs or abdomen. In severe cases, the disease can lead to death. It is important for equine owners and caretakers to be aware of the signs of SURRA and seek veterinary treatment immediately if they suspect an infection.
Treatment for SURRA in equines typically involves a combination of drugs and supportive care such as fluids and nutrition. However, prevention is key in controlling the spread of the disease. This can be achieved through measures such as insect control, quarantine of infected animals, and regular testing and monitoring of equine populations.
In South Africa, import regulations for equines require that all horses, donkeys, and mules be tested for SURRA before they can be imported into the country. This is to prevent the spread of the disease and protect the local equine population. Equine owners and breeders should be aware of these regulations and ensure that their animals are tested and certified before importing or exporting them.
2. How is SURRA transmitted in Equines?
SURRA is a parasitic disease that affects horses, mules, and donkeys. It is caused by Trypanosoma evansi, a protozoan parasite that is transmitted by blood-sucking insects, such as tsetse flies, horse flies, and deer flies. These insects feed on the blood of infected animals and then transfer the parasite to other animals when they feed again.
Once an equine is infected with SURRA, the parasite multiplies in the bloodstream and lymphatic system, causing fever, anemia, and edema. The disease can also affect the nervous system, leading to ataxia, weakness, and paralysis.
It is important to note that SURRA is a zoonotic disease, which means that it can also be transmitted to humans. Although the disease is rare in humans, it can cause serious health problems, including fever, anemia, and organ damage.
To prevent the spread of SURRA, it is important to implement strict biosecurity measures, such as insect control, regular testing, and isolation of infected animals. In South Africa, there are regulations in place that govern the import and export of horses, mules, and donkeys to prevent the spread of SURRA and other equine diseases. It is important for equine owners and handlers to be aware of these regulations and to work closely with veterinarians to ensure the health and safety of their animals and the general public.
3. Symptoms of SURRA in Equines
Symptoms of SURRA in equines can be difficult to identify, as they are similar to other diseases affecting horses. The early signs of SURRA can include a general lack of energy and appetite, fever, and swollen lymph nodes. As the disease progresses, horses may develop ulcers in the mouth and on the tongue and may have difficulty swallowing. In some cases, horses may develop swelling in their legs, belly, or genital area. In severe cases, horses may become anemic, which can cause weakness, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.
It is important to note that not all horses infected with SURRA will show symptoms. Some horses can carry the disease without showing any signs of illness, which can make it difficult to detect and control outbreaks. Therefore, it is crucial to regularly test horses for the disease, especially if they have been in contact with other infected animals.
If you suspect that your horse may be infected with SURRA, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can help reduce the severity of the disease and prevent it from spreading to other horses. Treatment for SURRA typically involves a combination of medications, including antibiotics and anti-parasitic drugs. Horses may also need supportive care, such as fluids and blood transfusions, to help them recover.
Overall, understanding the symptoms of SURRA in equines is crucial for preventing the spread of the disease and protecting the health of horses. By staying vigilant and working closely with your veterinarian, you can help keep your horses safe and healthy.
4. Diagnosis and testing for SURRA in Equines
Diagnosis and testing for SURRA in Equines is a crucial step in controlling and preventing the spread of the disease. It is important to note that the symptoms of SURRA in Equines may be easily confused with other diseases, so it is important for veterinarians to conduct a thorough examination and obtain a detailed history of the horse before making a diagnosis.
The diagnosis of SURRA in Equines involves a combination of clinical signs, laboratory tests, and serological testing. Some of the clinical signs include anemia, fever, lethargy, weight loss, and edema in the ventral abdomen and limbs. Laboratory tests include the examination of blood smears and buffy coat preparations for the presence of trypanosomes, which are the causative agents of SURRA. Serological tests, such as the enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and the indirect fluorescent antibody (IFA) test, can also be used to detect antibodies in the horse’s blood. Historically South African ministry has based their diagnostics on the CATT test (Card Agglutination Trypanosomiasis Test). This is considered a form of snap test and is used in first stage diagnostics, however not considered conclusive.
It is important to note that SURRA in Equines is a notifiable disease in South Africa, which means that any suspicion of the disease by a veterinarian must be reported to the local state veterinarian. This will trigger the necessary steps to be taken to control and prevent the spread of the disease. Importantly, all horses imported into South Africa must be tested for SURRA and certified free of the disease before they are allowed entry into the country. Failure to comply with these strict regulations can result in legal action and the potential spread of the disease to other horses.
5. Treatment for SURRA in Equines
The treatment of SURRA in equines is a complex and challenging process. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the disease and the stage at which it is diagnosed.
The first step in treating SURRA is to isolate the infected animal to prevent the spread of the disease. In mild cases, the infection can be treated with a course of antibiotics and supportive care, such as hydration and good nutrition.
In more severe cases, where the infection has spread to other organs, more aggressive treatment may be required. This can include a combination of antibiotics, anti-inflammatory drugs, and blood transfusions to support the animal’s immune system.
It is important to note that not all horses will respond to treatment, and some may need to be euthanized to prevent the spread of the disease to other animals. In addition, survivors of the disease may carry the parasite for life and can potentially spread the disease to other horses.
Prevention of SURRA is the best approach, and strict biosecurity measures should be implemented to prevent the introduction of infected animals into a herd. Regular testing and quarantine protocols should be in place for all new animals introduced to a herd.
If you suspect that your horse may have SURRA, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately. Early diagnosis and treatment can greatly improve the chances of a positive outcome for your horse.
6. How to prevent the spread of SURRA in Equines
Preventing the spread of SURRA in equines is crucial to ensure the health and safety of your horses, as well as the livestock and horses of your neighbors and the community. Firstly, it is important to quarantine any horses showing symptoms of SURRA to prevent the spread of the disease. Horses that have been diagnosed with SURRA should be isolated and treated immediately to prevent further transmission of the disease.
It is also important to limit the movement of horses between different regions, as this can increase the risk of spreading the disease. Horses returning from areas known to have SURRA should be monitored closely for any symptoms and tested accordingly.
Good hygiene practices should also be implemented to prevent the spread of the disease. This includes regular cleaning and disinfecting of stables, equipment, and vehicles used to transport horses. Additionally, it is important to avoid sharing equipment, such as grooming tools and water buckets, between horses to prevent the spread of any potential infections.
Lastly, it is important to comply with the import regulations and guidelines set by the South African government to prevent the introduction of SURRA from other countries. This includes proper testing and documentation for horses entering the country. By following these preventative measures, we can work towards controlling the spread of SURRA and maintaining the health and safety of our equine population.
7. Current import regulations for Equines in South Africa
Import regulations for equines in South Africa are stringent to ensure that diseases like SURRA are not introduced into the country. It is important to follow these regulations to prevent any legal issues, as well as to ensure the health of the equine population.
To import an equine into South Africa, several requirements must be met. These include obtaining an import permit from the Directorate of Animal Health, as well as a veterinary health certificate from the country of origin. Additionally, the equine must undergo quarantine upon arrival in South Africa to ensure that it is not carrying any diseases, including SURRA.
It is important to note that there are specific regulations in place for importing equines from high-risk countries where SURRA is endemic. These regulations may include additional testing or quarantine requirements to ensure that the equine is free from the disease before it is imported into South Africa. The revised regulations for import into South Africa are currently only available from Belgium to South Africa. These require 3 negative SURRA results using CATT and 2 different ELISSA tests in Belgium. These tests have to be run at the ITM OIE reference laboratory (Institute for Tropical Diseases Antwerp).
It is recommended to work with a reputable equine transport company that has experience in navigating import regulations to ensure a smooth and legal process. By following these regulations, we can work together to prevent the spread of SURRA and other diseases in the equine population in South Africa.
8. Conclusion and resources for further information
In conclusion, SURRA is a highly contagious and potentially fatal disease that can affect equines. It is important for equine owners and breeders to take the necessary precautions to prevent the spread of the disease and to be aware of the current import regulations in South Africa.
If you suspect that your horse may have contracted SURRA, it is important to contact your veterinarian immediately and take the necessary steps to isolate the animal and prevent the spread of the disease.
For further information on SURRA and equine health, there are several resources available online and through local veterinary clinics. The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) and the Equine Research Centre (ERC) are both valuable resources for equine health information and updates on any changes to import regulations.
Equine owners and breeders should also stay up to date with the latest research and developments in the field of equine health to ensure the health and wellbeing of their animals. By staying informed and taking the necessary precautions, we can work together to prevent the spread of diseases like SURRA and protect the health of our equine friends.
We hope our article on SURRA in equines has provided you with valuable insights into the disease, treatment, and current import regulations in South Africa. As a horse owner, it is essential to be aware of the risks that SURRA poses to your equine’s health and to take preventative measures. By following the import regulations and working with your veterinarian, you can help prevent the spread of SURRA and keep your horses healthy. We hope this article has been helpful to you and your equine friends.