African Horse Sickness (AHS) has now killed almost 200 horses in the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima in Thailand – the Southeast Asian country’s first-ever cases of the illness that affects animals.

The government was notified in late March of AHS in the country, although it is unclear how it arrived. Thailand have previously been deemed an “AHS Free Country” by the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE).

The province ‘s horse population totals 1,455 horses on 110 farms. Of those, 1,002 reside on 46 farms in Pak Chong, the hardest-hit district. Farms have been instructed to spray disinfectant and insecticide and erect mosquito netting.

Nakhon Ratchasima’s governor has issued an order prohibiting horses from being moved out of the area to prevent the disease from spreading; five road checkpoints have been set up to block attempts to move animals.

Horses suffering from AHS will have high fevers, a swollen face, laboured breathing, coughing, frothing and discharge from the nostrils and redness or bleeding in the eyes. Normally endemic only in the central tropical regions of Africa, AHS is a highly-infectious and often fatal disease that commonly affects horses, mules, and donkeys. Caused by a Orbivirus virus, while not directly contagious, it is spread by insect vectors including mosquitoes and biting flies.