Road blocks part of African Horse Sickness strategy

February 19, 2009

Random road blocks will be staged within South Africa's controlled area in a new initiative in the control of deadly African Horse Sickness (AHS).

The AHS Trust, in association with the Department of Transport in the Western Cape, will stage random road blocks at strategic points within the AHS Controlled Area.

South Africa's equine export industry relies on the Western Cape being kept free of the disease. A movement-restricted control area rings surrounds the cape.

"The single greatest threat to South Africa's export status is the introduction of AHS virus by the movement of infected horses into the AHS Controlled Area (in the Western Cape) from other parts of the country," the trust said.

It is a high risk time of the year for the disease in southern Africa.

"Now that South Africa is entering its high-risk season, the AHS Trust recommends the following to all horse owners: stabling between dusk and dawn, regular application of repellents, regular monitoring of temperatures, reducing the number of non-essential movements of horses."

It said horses should never be moved away from known outbreak areas as this potentially can perpetuate the outbreak by introducing virus into new areas.

African horse sickness has spread north from Africa and has caused horse deaths in several European countries.

It has a high fatality rate and is considered a major disease threat to northern European horses, which have never been exposed to it.