A suspected case of African Horse Sickness (AHS) within the surveillance zone in South Africa’s Western Cape province is being investigated by authorities.
The suspected case was detected by a private vet in Paarl through clinical surveillance. The disease, which is normally fatal for horses, is carried and spread by biting midges.
The horse is on a property which lies within the AHS surveillance zone, part of the biosecurity buffer for the AHS free zone from which horses can be exported.
The Western Cape Department of Agriculture is investigating the matter.
The Minister of Economic Opportunities, Alan Winde, said on Friday that samples collected from the colt had tested positive for the virus.
“We activated a routine surveillance programme immediately. Our vets are working in the area to determine whether any other animals on the property are affected,” he said.
Movement restrictions are in place and no horses are allowed into the freshly established containment zone around the property where the horse was living without a movement permit from a state vet.
“We urge horse owners to stable their horses from two hours before sunset to two hours before dawn to minimise the risk of the vector of the disease having contact with their horses. In addition, we appeal to owners to use a registered insect repellent during the vector feeding periods.”
Winde said the provincial government was taking measures to protect the AHS free zone. These measures include that all horses entering the province’s AHS Controlled Area would spend 14 days at a stop-quarantine facility.
Winde said AHS control policy dictated that all horses entering the AHS controlled area from an AHS infected zone must have been vaccinated within the past two years and not less than 40 days before entry.
Any owner within the AHS surveillance zone detecting illness in horses, which includes unexplained fever, swelling of the head and neck and difficulty breathing, should report the case to the local state vet.
The containment zone for the suspected case is as follows: The eastern border of the zone follows the border of the AHS surveillance zone from Gordon’s Bay along the Limietberg mountain range to Gouda. The boundary of the containment zone then extends westwards along the R46 through Hermon, Riebeeck Kasteel and to Malmesbury; The western border of the zone follows the N7 until it intersects with the N2; The N2 serves as the southern border of the containment zone until it reaches the eastern border at Gordon’s Bay; Roads that make up the borders of the zone are not included in the movement restrictions and transport of horses along these roads is permitted.