African Horse Sickness Cases Lessen in Western Cape

The African horse sickness (AHS) death toll in the Western Cape of South Africa has risen to 15 confirmed cases since the first death on the Elsenburg Agricultural Research Farm was confirmed on Feb. 25. Two cases are awaiting confirmation, with

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The African horse sickness (AHS) death toll in the Western Cape of South Africa has risen to 15 confirmed cases since the first death on the Elsenburg Agricultural Research Farm was confirmed on Feb. 25. Two cases are awaiting confirmation, with the last death occurring on March 28. Pieter Koen, BSc, BVSc, veterinarian and Deputy Director Animal Health in the Western Cape, said, “I think there is a strong indication that the disease has been contained. Our weather is changing, we’re well into autumn and early winter, and this usually stops the cycle (of the Culicoides imicola midge).”


African horse sickness is a lethal virus spread by the Culicoides imicola and the C. bolitinos midge, a species of small fly. Once night temperatures fall below 50-59°F (10-15°C) for 10-14 days concurrently, the life cycle of the midge is usually broken.


Affected areas include the Stellenbosch district, Anandale and Bottelary roads just outside of the Stellenbosch district, and the Kalbaskraal and Durbanville-Klipheuwel areas. A quarantine remains in place for the Stellenbosch district and the Somerset West area. There are about 40-50 equine properties outside of these areas under individual quarantine, according to Koen. No movement is allowed in to, out of, or through these areas or properties.


For the rest of the Western Cape, outward movement is allowed from the free zone and the surveillance zone into the infected zone, but once horses leave, they will not be allowed back in to the free and surveillance zones

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Sarah Evers Conrad has a bachelor’s of arts in journalism and equine science from Western Kentucky University. As a lifelong horse lover and equestrian, Conrad started her career at The Horse: Your Guide to Equine Health Care magazine. She has also worked for the United States Equestrian Federation as the managing editor of Equestrian magazine and director of e-communications and served as content manager/travel writer for a Caribbean travel agency. When she isn’t freelancing, Conrad spends her free time enjoying her family, reading, practicing photography, traveling, crocheting, and being around animals in her Lexington, Kentucky, home.

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