African Horse Sickness Continues in South Africa

Nine horses have succumbed to African horse sickness (AHS) in the Western Cape, South Africa, according to www.iol.com. The last horse was reported dead on March 12 by the South African news source. The horse died in the Stellenbosch magisterial district; however, the disease has now spread outside of the district.

African horse sickness is a lethal virus spread by the Culicoides bolitinos midge, a species of small fly. Midges need an infected horse as a viral source for the disease to spread. African horse sickness has the potential to spread very rapidly.

The seventh and eighth cases were confirmed on properties on the Anandale and Bottelary roads just outside of the Stellenbosch district, although authorities believe the outbreak was still mainly confined to the original infection area in Stellenbosch, reported the web site.

Officials are monitoring the outbreak, which began the week of Feb. 23, through samples and data collected from 1,150 equine properties (with an approximate population of 3,050 horses) in the area around Elsenburg Agricultural College.

Further disease control measures included vaccination of more than 1,000 horses in the area. In addition, up to 500 doses of the AHS vaccine were made available to cart horses from Cape Flats starting on March 16 at the Animal Anti-Cruelty League's Epping clinic at Elsenburg.

The ban on movement of horses to, from, within, and through the Stellenbosch district  and the Elsenburg area was extended on March 12 in light of the ninth case of AHS. Somerset West magisterial district north of the N2 (a major highway), Sir Lowry's pass in the east, and the R310 in the west, was added, reported www.news24.com. Horses were allowed to be transported along the N2, however, they were not allowed to exit the highway in the Somerset West magisterial district, and they were required to travel with a transport permit.

The ban within the AHS surveillance and free zones has been lightened to allow some movement with control measures. Racing at Kenilworth Race Course is continuing as scheduled.

For more on the initial outbreak, click here.

About the Author

Sarah Evers Conrad

Sarah Evers Conrad has a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and equine science from Western Kentucky University. As a lifelong horse lover and equestrian, Conrad started her career at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care magazine. She has also worked for the United States Equestrian Federation as the managing editor of Equestrian magazine and director of e-communications and served as content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency. When she isn’t freelancing, Conrad spends her free time enjoying her family, reading, practicing photography, traveling, crocheting, and being around animals in her Lexington, Kentucky, home.

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