South Africa restricts movements over African Horse Sickness outbreak

A case of African horse sickness. Photo: Gelagay Ayelet Melesse
A case of African horse sickness. Photo: Gelagay Ayelet Melesse

Horses have been banned from moving in and out of South Africa’s Western Cape after an outbreak of deadly African Horse Sickness in other parts of the country.

The province’s agriculture agency imposed the restrictions on Friday to help protect the country’s export status.

At least 20 horses have perished in KwaZulu-Natal from the disease, which is carried by biting midges.

There have been other cases in Gauteng.

In all, 34 cases are confirmed or suspected across South Africa.

Western Cape is reported to be the only province free of the diease.

Direct horse movements to the province’s African Horse Sickness control area were being strongly discouraged.

The recent surge in cases has been put down to recent high summer rainfall. There is usually a rise in case numbers in February.

The Western Cape export zone around Kenilworth and Cape Town is surrounded by a buffer zone, where surveillance, quarantine and vaccination measures are used to keep the disease at bay.

African Horse Sickness affects horses, mules, zebras and donkeys, causing fever, heart and respiratory problems.

Up to 90 percent of infected horses die, followed by mules (50 percent) and donkeys (10 percent). There is no effective treatment.

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