Export Strategy to AHS Outbreak

The Department of Veterinary Services Western Cape and the Equine Research Centre will continue to manage the present outbreak of AHS that occurred in Mamre in the Surveillance Zone, approximately 60kms from Kenilworth Quarantine Station.

All attempts have been made to contain the outbreak by placing a movement ban on all horses within the quarantine area (Malmsbury District) and to vaccinate all susceptible horses with Bottle 1 which includes Serotype 1, the serotype isolated from the outbreak. The team will continue to tie up all epidemiological evidence to determine the source of the outbreak. Once the clinical end point has been reached, a detailed report on all aspects of the outbreak will be circulated to all potential importing countries and interested parties.

In terms of the present OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health) Code Chapter for AHS, an outbreak of AHS in the Surveillance Zone results in the loss of South Africa’s AHS free status for a period of 12 months after the clinical end point of the outbreak. This is subject a surveillance programme that has demonstrated no evidence of AHS virus in the Surveillance Zone for at least 12 months which includes next season’s high risk period. Realistically, presuming the clinical end point is reached by the end of May 2011 and, there are no new outbreaks of AHS in the AHS Controlled Area, South Africa is not likely to regain its AHS free status before June 2012.

South Africa’s biggest trading partner, by the number of direct shipments, the European Union, is bound by legislation incorporated in the South African horse export protocol which results in a two year embargo.

During the process of attempting to regain South Africa’s AHS free status via the OIE, a small task team from the Import Export Working Group is considering all options to resume exports on a limited basis from Kenilworth Quarantine Station under existing regulations provided by the OIE AHS Code. The task team is targeting important trading partners and working closely with the veterinary departments attached to the individual racing jurisdictions.

Earlier this year, the South African veterinary services hosted a delegation from Qatar to inspect South Africa’s AHS control measures. An official invitation has also been extended to the UAE’s Higher Technical Committee to commit to a date.

Further reports will be issued in due course.

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