With direct movement into the AHS controlled area in the Western Cape from Gauteng, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and KZN already closed, the Eastern Cape and the North West Province were closed today as well.
“The risk is being constantly evaluated and movement restrictions into the controlled area are implemented by State Vet Boland based on the risk profile for African horse sickness” said Adrian Todd MD of SAEHP.
While social media has reported an increase in cases particularly in GP this year, Todd points out that this must be looked at objectively.
“While cases are subjectively more than expected, the reporting has improved, so this obviously leads to an increase in official cases” he stated.
The team at SAEHP further cautions people on being completely reliant on the use of unregistered vaccines for African horse sickness prevention.
“While vaccination against AHS remains pivotal in the prevention of the disease, we urge people to use registered vaccine and at the appropriate time of year, i.e. during the winter months” said SAEHP’s Dr Camilla Weyer.
Todd recognises the disruption movement restrictions into the AHS controlled area cause, however he points out that with there not being any movement control in the infected (endemic) zone, once the virus starts circulating at a certain level, the risk of incursion of the virus into the controlled area simply becomes too great and the general restrictions are a very necessary part of the disease control strategy.
“Apart from the vital importance of maintaining the sanctity of the control zones for export, one must remember that many horses in the Cape are unvaccinated and are therefore a naive population” he states.
SAEHP’s Dr John Grewar stated that the need for stop over quarantine has been shown to work to prevent PCR positive horses entering the AHS controlled area from the infected zone.
“The biology of AHS and our currently available tests requires both the use of PCR testing and stop-over quarantine from higher risk areas of the country to ensure the integrity of our controlled area is maintained.”
Todd reiterated that SA is for the first time fully compliant with EU standards for trade and, with DAFF officially having requested market access to the EU, SAEHP was working with the Western Cape Provincial Government and the DTI to negotiate the final phase of market access to the EU.
“We are close to opening trade: all the safeguards are in place. This current situation simply proves that our systems work. While the vast majority of these cases are not Thoroughbreds, as the virus is vector borne we must protect all in order to protect ourselves” he concluded.