DAFF seeks protective measures from horse disease

Friday, March 15, 2019

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) says it is working with the equine industry on protective measures for horses in the African Horse Sickness (AHS) infected zone in order to reduce the severity of AHS outbreaks.

AHS is transmitted by flying insects (midges), making restriction of horse movements less effective in the control of the disease. 

AHS outbreaks are expected to occur in the AHS infected zone from November to May, often with a peak from February to April - depending on climatic factors such as rainfall and temperature.

“Outbreaks of AHS in Gauteng and Mpumalanga were officially reported to DAFF in February and March 2019. However, there is currently no conclusive information indicative of unusually high incidences of AHS outbreaks for this time of the year,” the department said. 

In most of South Africa, except for a part of the Western Cape province, AHS is endemic.

According to the department, certain parts of the Western Cape Province have been legislated as AHS controlled areas in terms of the Animal Diseases Act 1984 (Act no. 35 of 84) and these areas are generally free from AHS.

“No outbreak has been reported from the AHS controlled area of the Western Cape province,” the department said.

The department said that restrictions on equid movements within the AHS infected zone are not routinely implemented by State veterinary services, because this would be almost impossible to control and would be seen as unnecessarily restrictive by the majority of affected horse owners.

“DAFF is working with the equine industry on protective measures for horses in the AHS infected zone with the aim of reducing the severity of AHS outbreaks, while being neither too restrictive on the movement and trade of equids within the AHS infected zone, nor too onerous with regards to the administrative and financial burden of all role-players involved with equids,” the department said.

The department has advised owners of animal to contact their local state veterinarians to ascertain whether local movement restrictions have been implemented for a particular area.

The Animal Diseases Act 1984 (Act no. 35 of 84) requires that owners and managers of animals take all reasonable steps to protect their animals and prevent the spreading of diseases from their animals. The movement of equids that are infected with the AHS virus may increase the risk of AHS to other equids and should therefore be limited.

The owners are also advised to contact local animal health technician or state veterinarian if they are unsure what AHS zone their animals are in, or if they require any guidance with regards to AHS control measures or reporting.

Contact details for the provincial veterinary services and your local state veterinarian can be accessed by using the following link:  https://www.daff.gov.za/daffweb3/Branches/Agricultural-Production-Health-Food-Safety/Animal-Health/contacts/provincialveterinary. – SAnews.gov.za