Twenty-two horses from Kjalarnes in southwest Iceland have died from a salmonella infection during the past week. Three to four other horses are mortally ill, although most of those infected are recovering. A total of 41 horses were infected with salmonella.
Horses during an Icelandic winter blizzard. The picture is unrelated to the story. Copyright: Icelandic Photo Agency.
“It is incredibly sad when they just die in your arms,” MP Árni Páll Árnason told visir.is, who has lost one horse to the infection and has spent most of his Christmas tending to sick horses in a stable in Mosfellsbaer and helped putting those animals down who are beyond recovery. Another of his horses is seriously ill.
The infection is believed to have come from a sedimentation pond in the herd’s pasturage.
Since Christmas Eve, Árnason and his wife Sigrún have spent many nights by the side of their horses. On December 26, Árnason lost his horse Asi, who has been his companion for seven years. It is unclear whether his horse Áki, who is also infected, will survive.
“It is so incredibly sad because you try and you try but don’t see any changes to the condition of your horses,” Árnason said. “But I do get to experience the recovery of other people’s horses that I helped regain strength.”
Árnason is dissatisfied with how the authorities reacted to the infection.
“I’m surprised that the authorities reacted both in a fumbling and slow manner to begin with. Coordination was lacking and a task force should have been established,” Árnason said, however pointing out that Icelandic authorities have never had to deal with such an extensive infection before.