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Acta Trop. 2016 Jun;158:201-207. doi: 10.1016/j.actatropica.2016.03.005. Epub 2016 Mar 10.

A web-based survey of horse owners' perceptions and network analysis of horse movements relating to African horse sickness distribution in Namibia and South Africa.

Author information

1
Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom campus, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa; Faculty of Education Sciences, School for Natural Sciences and Technology for Education, North-West University, Potchefstroom campus, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa. Electronic address: Danica.LiebenbergWeyers@nwu.ac.za.
2
Unit for Environmental Sciences and Management, North-West University, Potchefstroom campus, Private Bag X6001, Potchefstroom 2520, South Africa.

Abstract

Africa horse sickness (AHS) is the most lethal infectious non-contagious horse disease and has accordingly been declared notifiable by the World Organisation for Animal Health. AHS is endemic to sub-Saharan Africa and causes considerable losses to the equestrian industry. The effect of diseases in livestock on socio-economic factors is well researched, but the effect of anthropogenic factors on the distribution of a disease is poorly understood. The purpose of the study was to assess Namibian and South African horse owners' perceptions and the effect of horse movement on AHS distribution. A cross-sectional study was conducted to collect information from horse owners in Namibia and South Africa. To that end 'Fluid survey' was used for survey development. The survey was launched on Facebook and the link shared to horse related focus groups in Namibia and South Africa. A total of 508 responses were collected during the survey period. Of the 417 completed questionnaires received, 22% were from Namibia and 78% from South Africa. The participants comprised of 71% social and 29% professional riders. The most popular precautionary measures used, in addition to vaccination, were chemical repellents (64%) and stabling of horses during dusk and dawn (59%). A network analysis was performed in Gephi 0.8.2.B to illustrate the movement of horses between countries and districts/provinces. Network analysis results indicate that areas with the highest movement of horses corresponded to the areas with a high occurrence of AHS. Although 93% of the participants were aware that AHS is a notifiable and controlled disease, the process and efficiency of reporting is mostly unknown. With this snapshot of horse owners' perceptions and the effect of horse movement on the distribution of AHS, it is clear that a more holistic approach is needed. To that end, all environmental and social factors must be taken into account in effective management strategies.

KEYWORDS:

Anthropogenic influences; Movement of horses; Network analysis

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