South Africa: Suspected AHS Shuts Down Equine Movement

The test samples are still pending, but officials have instituted a precautionary ban on equine movement into the areas of the Western Cape considered under surveillance and free of African horse sickness, the Independent Online reported.

African horse sickness is a viral disease that can affect horses, mules, donkeys, and zebras, as well as dogs and camels. Horses are most susceptible to AHS, with a 75-90% mortality rate. A vaccine is available but there is no treatment for affected horses. The recovery process for surviving horses is slow.

The disease is spread by Culicoides midges. African horse sickness is currently limited to its namesake continent, where nine serotypes have been identified.

A two-year ban on importing South African horses to the European Union was lifted in October 2006. The EU imposed that ban after the virus spread to the AHS-free zone in 2004.

An agriculture official is quoted in the Independent Online article as saying the current suspected cases could lead to a six-month ban on export.

For more information on African horse sickness see  

About the Author

Erin Ryder

Erin Ryder is a former news editor of The Horse: Your Guide To Equine Health Care. She owns a portly gray gelding named Duncan and dabbles in several equestrian disciplines, with an emphasis on dressage.

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