South African horse owners and veterinarians are managing an outbreak of African horse sickness (AHS) in the George area, which is in southern South Africa (in the southeast region of the Western Cape). As of Feb. 28, 13 horses had died. Current outbreaks are not expected to affect the predicted removal of a European Union export ban on South African horses, as the outbreaks are at least 400 km (almost 250 miles) away from the country’s "AHS-free zone," which is the metropolitan area of Cape Town at the southwestern tip of the nation.


African horse sickness (AHS) is a fatal viral disease that can affect horses, mules, and donkeys. Horses are most susceptible to AHS, with a 75-90% mortality rate. The clinical signs of one AHS form include swelling around the eyes, neck, shoulders, thorax, and intermandibular space. Learn more about AHS here:

African horse sickness is spread by Culicoides midges. Affected animals can show clinical signs ranging from pulmonary distress to heart failure, and the disease is often fatal. Owners are encouraged to vaccinate their horses against the disease. Currently, AHS is contained to its namesake continent, where nine serotypes of the disease circulate. (For more