During COVID-19 Pandemic, PETA India Urges Delhi Government to Act As Horses Test Positive for Glanders

For Immediate Release

2 July 2020


Hiraj Laljani; [email protected]

Sachin Bangera; [email protected]

Group Says No Action Has Been Taken, Although Disease Is Life-Threatening to Humans and Warnings Were Issued by National Research Body

New Delhi – Following the 20 June report of the National Research Centre on Equines (NRCE) addressed to the Delhi Department of Animal Husbandry & Dairying stating that a horse, likely used for ceremonial purposes, was the latest to test positive for glanders, a fatal zoonotic disease which can be spread from animals to humans, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) India sent a letter to Lt Gov Anil Baijal and Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The group urged them to act immediately by prohibiting the keeping and use of equines – horses, donkeys, and mules – in Delhi to protect the public. COVID-19 is also a zoonotic disease, believed to have first infected humans through contact with wildlife at a live-animal meat market in China.

The group pointed out that although eight horses tested positive for glanders in 2019 and 40 in 2018, no action has been taken by the Delhi animal husbandry department to prohibit the movement of equines or conduct disease surveillance as mandated by the Prevention and Control of Infectious and Contagious Diseases in Animals Act, 2009, under which glanders is a notifiable disease, and the 2019 National Action Plan for Control and Eradication of Glanders in India issued by the central government.

“We commend the action taken by the Delhi government to address the health-care challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic to the people in the state,” says PETA India CEO and veterinarian Dr Manilal Valliyate. “However, to protect the people of Delhi adequately from deadly zoonotic disease, glanders also has to be addressed by ending the use of horses for rides, to haul goods, for ceremonies, and for other purposes that are altogether unnecessary today, thanks to machinery and technology.”

Glanders is a contagious, fatal disease in horses, mules, and donkeys caused by the bacteria Burkholderia mallei and 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. Without proper treatment, it 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’s yet to be implemented. The policy of the South, North and East Delhi municipal corporations for issuing licences to use horses for weddings – which PETA India has urged the body to repeal – does not mandate routine disease surveillance in the animals, putting their health and that of the public at risk.

For more information, please visit PETAIndia.com.