Baguio City

Baguio’s horse handlers take measures to contain swamp fever

Frank Cimatu
Baguio’s horse handlers take measures to contain swamp fever

BAGUIO HORSES. A man grooms a horse at Wright Park.

Mau Victa/Rappler

Around 20 horses infected with swamp fever have been moved out of Wright Park and isolated to keep other horses safe

Wright Park is now clear of the dreaded swamp fever and only the tourists are missing to complete the recovery. 

Darwin Alquizar, the vice president of the 200-member Pony Boys here, said that the 20 horses still infected with equine infectious anemia (EIA) or swamp fever have been isolated away from the park and that the remaining 150 ponies and horses are already safe. 

Alquizar said that they have complied with the Executive Order No. 56 series of 202, signed by Mayor Benjamin Magalong, requiring the mandatory isolation of all sick horses in Baguio City.

“We have brought some of the horses to as far as Tublay town in Benguet to isolate them,” he said. 

He said that the Baguio Veterinary Office is strictly monitoring their horses and that the ones left in Wright Park are already safe. 

Instead of euthanizing the sick horses, Magalong recommended the isolation of these horses 200 to 500 meters away from other horses. 

Although it is infectious, EIA is non-contagious. The principal mode of natural transmission of EIA is through the mouth-parts of blood-feeding insects, especially horse flies. 

EIA is not transmissible to humans but it is incurable and could be transferred easily to other horses through bites of flies. It is a notifiable disease listed in the World Health Organization and must be reported to public health authorities due to health risks, the EO stated.

There are 250 horses or ponies in Wright Park, John Hay, and Country Club where they are hired by tourists for riding or trekking. 

Alquizar said that indeed 27 horses died since last year but not all were due to EIA.

He said that some died because their owners can no longer buy medicines or vitamins for them.

Alquizar said that without tourists, pony boys have to resort to collecting, drying, and selling horse manure to plantitos, for compost. –