Dourine (also known as covering sickness) affects horses, donkeys, mules, zebras and other equidae and is passed on sexual contact. The disease is caused by a parasite which cannot survive outside the animal’s body. The parasite dies quickly in the carcass of affected animals. It does not affect humans but is a notifiable disease. That means if you suspect it, you must tell the Animal and Plant Health Agency (APHA) immediately. Failure to do so is an offence.
There has never been an outbreak in Scotland or Great Britain.
Dourine is a unique disease in the sense that it has no known vectors or fomites existing in the natural world. It is caused by a protozoan parasite called Τrypanosoma equiperdum.
The main clinical signs are:
- swelling of genital areas or udders and the surrounding skin
- fluid discharge from genitals (in mares)
- lesions or damage to the skin
- stiffness and weakness
- lack of coordination
- inability to move
Dourine is often fatal, although some animals show no signs and recover from the disease.
The Government's policy on disease control is that prevention is better than cure. This approach works by reducing the chances of a disease entering the animal population, and if it does then it can be quickly spotted and dealt with through the preventative measures.
You can help prevent disease by practising strict biosecurity on your premises. Our equine biosecurity leaflet outlines practical, day-to-day actions that can be easily adopted in order to reduce the potential for the introduction or spread of disease-causing agents.
How it’s spread
Dourine spreads through sexual intercourse or sexual contact.
The disease is caused by a parasite which cannot survive outside the animal’s body. The parasite dies quickly in the carcass of affected animals.
Movement Controls & Tracings
If notifiable disease is confirmed, the premises becomes an Infected Premises (IP) and infected equine/s are immediately placed under movement restrictions and isolated from all other equine/s on site. Movement restrictions may also be imposed on other equines and/or items such as fodder, manure, bedding, vehicles or equipment. The purpose of movement restrictions are to reduce the risk of the spread of disease, and some movements may be permitted under licence.
Tracings of the infected horse/s activity will be investigated to establish possible origins of disease and onward spread. Other equines at the infected premises or identified as a result of tracings may be subject to inspection or examination by a Veterinary Officer.
Further information on the control of infection is available in the HBLB Code Of Practice and the statutory requirements within Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987. Restrictions will remain in place until the investigation is complete and notifiable disease is ruled out.
There is no vaccination available for dourine.
The Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) (Amendment) and Compensation (Scotland) Order 2014 provides for the relevant Minister to pay compensation for horses or equines killed for the purpose of controlling dourine (or farcy),equine infectious anaemia or glanders. The amount of compensation payable in relation to those animals is £1.
The main domestic legislation on Dourine is the Infectious Diseases of Horses Order 1987.
The Specified Diseases (Notification and Slaughter) (Amendment) and Compensation (Scotland) Order 2014 also applies.