After Deadly Disease Outbreak in Horses Used for Weddings, PETA India Urges Delhi to Ban Them

For Immediate Release:

29 May 2019


Dr Manilal Valliyate; [email protected]

Garima Jain; [email protected]

Eight Horses Tested Positive for Glanders, Which Can Be Fatal to Humans

Delhi – Today, following a report of an outbreak of the deadly zoonotic disease glanders in working equines – horses, donkeys, and mules – in Delhi, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India fired off a letter urging the Delhi government to implement the 2010 ban on tongas in the region and to prohibit the use of horses in weddings and other ceremonies.

The 7 May 2019 report of the National Research Centre on Equines (NRCE), addressed to the Director of the Department of Animal Husbandry and Dairying, Delhi, states that eight horses in Mangolpuri and Nebsarai tested positive for glanders. Reportedly, most horses who tested positive were used for wedding events. In addition, the report states that, since glanders is a notifiable disease, the provisions of the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009, should be implemented immediately by banning the movement and use of equines in the state.

Copies of the NRCE’s report and PETA India’s letter to the Delhi government are available upon request.

“Horses forced to pull overloaded carts and paraded during weddings in Delhi have long faced thirst, malnourishment, untreated injuries, attacks with weapons, and other pain, while Delhi’s citizens have been exposed to the serious traffic hazard they cause and now also the risk of dangerous zoonotic diseases like glanders,” says Dr Manilal Valliyate, PETA India’s chief executive officer and equine veterinarian. “We urge the compassionate people of Delhi never to use horses at their weddings or at those of their family members.”

Glanders is a contagious, fatal disease in horses, mules, and donkeys caused by the bacteria Burkholderia mallei, characterised by the serial development of ulcerating nodules commonly found in the upper respiratory tract, in the lungs, and on the skin. Humans may become infected with the disease through contact with infected animals or inhalation, and the disease can affect the skin, the lungs, and the entire body and, in the absence of proper treatment, can lead to a painful death. The 2010 resolution by the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, which banned tongas in the state, quoted the high prevalence of glanders as one of the major reasons for the ban, but it is yet to be implemented. The 2014 policy of the South Delhi Municipal Corporation for issuing licences to use horses for weddings does not mandate routine disease surveillance in the animals, putting their health and that of the general public at risk. Between 2017 and 2018, 40 equines tested positive for glanders. The recent outbreak indicates that the implementation of disease surveillance and the restriction on equine movement in Delhi has been ineffective, in violation of the 2009 law and the action plan recommended by the Central Government for the control and containment of glanders.

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