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AHS Cases Prompt Horse Movement Restrictions in South Africa

The increasing number of reported AHS cases in South Africa prompted the movement restrictions.

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The Chief Director of Veterinary Services in the Western Cape, Dr. Gininda Msiza, announced April 4 that restrictions have been placed on all direct horse movements into the Western Cape African Horse Sickness (AHS) Control Area from all other provinces in South Africa, effective immediately. The movement restrictions are outlined in the veterinary notice below.

These restrictions were instituted due to the increasing number of reported and suspicious AHS cases in the rest of the country. This AHS season, which stretches from January to June, has already seen 208 cases reported, 126 of which were fatal. Due to persistent high rainfall in the interior, the numbers of cases have increased dramatically and are also occurring earlier than in previous years. There have, to date, been no reported cases of AHS in the Western Cape this season.

African horse sickness is a fatal viral disease spread by Culicoides—tiny, blood-sucking insects—that can affect horses, mules, and donkeys, as well as dogs and camels. Horses are most susceptible to AHS, with a 75-90% mortality rate. A vaccine is available, but no effective treatment methods exist for infected horses. For survivors, recovery is slow.

Western Cape Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Gerrit van Rensburg said horse owners are strongly discouraged from attempting to move horses from anywhere in the "infected zone" into the Western Cape control area as the risk of transmitting the disease is increasing

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