AFP, 29th April, 1999

Ipoh polo club under quarantine

Two horses tested positive for encephalitis

Thousands of horses in Malaysia faced blood tests and a polo club in northern Perak state has been placed under quarantine after two horses tested positive for encephalities, a report said Thursday.

"The quarantine is to protect the horses at the club which is located very near to pig farms in Tambun, Ampang and Ulu Piah," Mohamad Nordin Mohamad Fuad, director-general of the Veterinary Services Department was quoted as saying by The Star newspaper.

Nordin said the two infected horses with Nipah virus had been put down. The Star said horses had been implicated in the viral encephalitis outbreak which has killed at least 100 people in the past few months.

The tests on the horses were done in Australia and it appeared they were infected by the pigs, Nordin said.

Talk of horses dying mysteriously surfaced at the polo club last year, the newspaper said.

The polo club is located about two kilometres (1.2 miles) from a large pig farming area where the deadly viral encephalitis outbreak started in October 1998.

Nordin said blood samples from 4,500 horses nationwide would be tested. On April 15, he announced a clean bill of health for 1,400 racehorses which tested negative for a second virus, Hendra.

Authorities in Perak also said pigs infected with the Nipah virus have been detected at two farms considered low-risk

Chief Minister Ramli Ngah Talib said another 8,500 pigs would be culled as soon as possible to contain the Nipah virus. A total of 154,839 pigs in high-risk areas in the state have already been killed.

Some eight million ringgit (two million dollars) has been raised through various campaigns to provide financial assistance for displaced people affected by the disease, officials said.

Copyright © 1999. Agence France-Presse.
All rights reserved.