‘Our industry needs exports. It’s the only way to internationalise and recruit new money into SA.We had an EU Food & Veterinary Office audit date confirmed and then COVID-19 arrived’.
SAEHP Managing Director Adrian Todd is adamant that South Africa stands ready to host either a physical or a remote audit.
“Our government has given its full support at the highest levels and South Africa’s trade negotiating team are hard at work to secure the soonest possible date,” he assured us after being contacted by the Sporting Post following reports of champion trainer Mike de Kock labelling changes in training protocols at Randjesfontein as ‘bizarre’.
To contacted the SAEHP boss to try and gain some clarity on the issues surrounding domestic movement of horses and African horse sickness control measures.
“In order to protect the integrity of the free zone, there are a number of measures in place which include movement restrictions between the AHS infected part of the country and the controlled area.To assist the industry in maintaining movement during higher risk periods of the year, or from areas where outbreaks of the disease have been detected, point of origin Vector Protected Quarantine can be utilised,” he said.
Todd said that when there are sporadic cases of the disease in an area, like the Germiston case under discussion, whole state vet areas may not shut down for direct movement.
“Rather an area of 30 km around a case, or cases, is defined and direct movements from within this area is restricted. The 30 km area is based on data from well-defined AHS outbreaks in the AHS controlled area,” he explained.
He added that vector protected point of origin quarantine is where the horses are quarantined in a vector protected facility at a location in the infected zone which is considered high risk.
In this instance horses are quarantined for 14 days and must be inside the vector protected facility between the hours of 15h00 and 10h00.
“The quarantine protocol in place seeks to find the balance between international norms for movement of horses between an infected and a free country, and the situation we have in South Africa. We recognise that it is not ideal as regards the routine for horses in training, and we constantly seek to make protocols as practical as possible while minimising the risk of transmission into the control zones,” he said.
He confirms that this current formalised system was introduced two years ago to keep movement to the Cape possible even in the face of an outbreak.
“Previously the Western Cape AHS controlled area would close the borders as soon as the first case of AHS was reported for the season and this closure would stay in place until the following winter.”
A purpose built barn funded by the RA was installed at Randjesfontein.
“SAEHP and the Department are constantly working to improve control measures while maintaining the integrity of the control zones., which is the priority. Every decision taken by the department is based on a risk assessment that carefully balances all aspects. Each year provides further movement and case statistics (that were not collected prior to 2016) that allows debate on changes based on scientific principles and expert input.”
A number of other ideas have been mooted. Mr Todd says that these however were simply not up to international standards.
“The current EU export protocol in Cape Town is often mentioned as it is different and allows exercise during the day from two hours after sunrise to two hours before sunset, but this is explicitly from the AHS free zone where there is active surveillance in place and no circulation of AHS virus, which is of course not the case in an AHS outbreak area.”
- Adrian Todd has invited anybody with questions to contact him at [email protected]