African Horse Sickness is a viral disease of horses, mules and donkeys and is transmitted by culicoides midges. Like the anopheles mosquito, which spreads the plasmodium malaria parasite, the culicoides midge also requires a blood meal from specific host animals in order to develop their eggs. Horses are most susceptible, mules less so, while donkeys and zebra are very resistant. Horses that have recovered from this disease do not remain carriers of the virus. However, like malaria, the virus requires a reservoir host to lie dormant in through the dry winter months. Zebra are thought to be the prime reservoir host, but it can lie dormant in other animals as well. It is therefore the transport of host animals that causes the large scale spread of the virus and the midge merely acts as a carrier from animal to animal over short distances.


The significant growth of malaria cases in Southern Africa over the last couple of years is mostly due to the greater movement of people, particularly since the opening up of our borders after the elections.


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