Bahrain to launch new plan against glanders
Manama, June 20, 2012
Every horse in Bahrain is set to be electronically tagged as part of plans to combat the deadly equine disease glanders.
Sources said the Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry were planning to implement the new system to improve transparency about the origins and locations of the animals.
It aims to ensure government officials can track the movements of potentially infected horses and the places they had been.
The plan comes after government officials were accused of putting the country at risk of glanders by failing to properly enforce a ban on the movement of horses.
No new cases have been reported since two horses were put down after testing positive last September, and the ban was due to be lifted at the end of the month, but it is understood it could be extended until the end of August.
"The ban is supposed to be lifted at the end of July and that is when we expect the new system to be implemented," said sources.
"We will institute a stable book system to all the stables and horse owners. We want to have an accurate bio-security history of all the horses, where they have come from, where they have been and where they are going to go."
Sources said that for the new system to work correctly it would have to be implemented and enforced while the glanders movement ban was in place.
They revealed the ministry will carry out random checks at stables around the country to ensure it is properly enforced.
"The system will not require people to get permission to move animals after the ban is lifted, but people will just have to inform the ministry that an animal has actually been moved," said the sources.
"All horses will require electronic chipping which will be done by ministry approved experts in the case of mix-bread horses. People will receive a book explaining what to do in case of sickness or any other issue and phone numbers will be supplied on which department to contact.
"The helplines will be customised for the type of sickness, the bread of the animal and the type of animal."
Sources said horse owners would have a large role to play in the success of the new system.
"The biggest problem comes when an infected horse moves into a stable with uninfected ones, this could spread glanders," they said.
"That is why the movement ban was started in the first place since there was no way to track all these animals. Because of that all the horses in the country had to be tested and in order for a horse or stable to be cleared it has to pass two consecutive tests, and it is not cheap.
"To test one horse once, with all the other fees, it costs about BD25 ($66.31) and there are around 5,000 animals that are registered."
The glanders outbreak has reportedly had a devastating impact on horse prices, with breeds that would have previously sold for BD3,000 are now worth as little as BD500.
According to the ban, owners wishing to move their animals, which includes horses, mules, donkeys and camels, more than 500 metres must apply for written permission from the ministry. – TradeArabia News Service