Export Prospects Brighten

African Horse Sickness

South Africa is set to benefit immensely from the revisions to the African Horse Sickness (AHS) Code Chapter that were adopted at the recent meeting of the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE)  General Assembly that was held in Paris, France.

The new guidelines will greatly improve the way in which countries infected with African Horse Sickness are able to export their horses, something that South Africa has been negotiating for a number of years now. The new AHS Code will be published by the OIE in due course.

The 80th General Assembly meeting of the World Organization for Animal Health, commonly known as the OIE, was attended by more than 600 participants representing OIE member countries, as well as international, intergovernmental, regional and national organizations.

The assembly also adopted chapters that will serve as international guidelines on trade on animals and animal products. For the first time in many years, the assembly adopted a chapter on welfare considerations for livestock production.
The meeting discussed, amongst others, the matter of “One Health” approach to disease control, which recognises the importance of addressing new and emerging animal diseases as a critical element for food security, health protection and economic prosperity.

One of the chapters adopted was on Guidelines on African Horse Sickness, from which South Africa is set to benefit. South Africa’s control measures for African Horse Sickness will be recognized worldwide as these measures have been present over years. The South African Horse Industry, DAFF and the University of Pretoria worked very hard to contribute to the drafting of this chapter.

The department wishes to congratulate Dr Botlhe Modisane, a veterinarian in DAFF, who was elected into the council of the OIE for a period of three years.

Racing South Africa CEO, Peter Gibson stated: “This is a significant breakthrough for South Africa, whose horse export industry has been hamstrung by past rules which failed to properly address the real risk of exporting the AHS virus. Racing South Africa’s horse export strategy has focused on two major themes pertaining to AHS: changing the regulations and improving the science. We are extremely grateful to the South African Veterinary Services for their efforts on behalf of South Africa’s equestrian industry and the team that supported them, in particular Professor Alan Guthrie and Dr Beverley Zietsman.”

Changes to the African horse sickness (AHS) code chapter were adopted at the 80th General Assembly of the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) in Paris on Wed 23rd May 2012.

Material changes include:

1) Countries can apply to the OIE for official recognition of their AHS disease status. The newly adopted code outlines procedures that need to be followed to complete and submit a dossier with an application for official recognition of AHS disease status. The dossier needs to be submitted for consideration ahead of an ad hoc working group meeting in January 2013. If an application is successful, it will form the cornerstone of protocol negotiations between countries as systems of control and monitoring for AHS will have been reviewed and accepted by the OIE. This will greatly expedite protocol development.

2) The opportunity for countries to apply to the OIE for recognition of a containment zone within a previously AHS free country or zone in the event of a limited controlled outbreak of AHS in the AHS controlled area. Once the OIE recognises a containment zone, the status of the remainder of the country or zone can be regained 80 days after the last case of AHS. This will greatly expedite the resumption of exports following an outbreak of AHS in the AHS controlled area.

3) A substantially shortened pre export quarantine period in combination with agent identification testing when exporting from an infected country or zone.
The reduction of pre-export quarantine from a minimum of 40 days continuous quarantine to a minimum of 14 days vector protected quarantine with agent identification testing when exporting from an infected country or zone, introduces a practical solution for exporting from an infected country.
South Africa will be requesting various trading partners to consider how these OIE code changes can be implemented to expedite the export of horses from South Africa.

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