Kuruman put under quarantine for suspected African Horse Sickness

Photo: hee.co.za

A suspected case of African Horse Sickness has been reported in the Kuruman area in the John Taolo District Municipality.

This comes after the Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s Veterinary Services collected samples from three horses in the area for testing.

The African Horse Sickness is a disease caused by a virus which is transmitted by midges. The virus belongs to the same family as the Blue Tongue Virus found in sheep. Clinical signs in horses include difficulty breathing, swelling of the head, foaming from the nose and a sudden death of the animal.

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In terms of the Animal Diseases Act of 35 of 1984, movement restrictions now apply within a 30 km radius of Kuruman until further notice. Therefore no horses or donkeys may be moved in or out of the above mentioned area until further notice.

The samples have been sent to Onderstepoort Laboratory and the results are expected in due course. Should the results be negative, the Department’s Veterinarian unit will lift the quarantine. If the results are positive, the quarantine will be in effect for 60 days after the last horse has died of the disease.

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The quarantine may only be lifted by the State Veterinarian Director or the Director for Animal Health.

The Department is advising horse owners to take precautions that include protecting horses from being bitten by midges and treating them with registered products for this purpose. Horses can be kept indoors until the sun is well up and be put into the stable before the sun sets and the midges become active.

By law, all horse owners are obliged to vaccinate their horses against African Horse Sickness once a year with a registered vaccine.

They are also being advised that horses should be vaccinated between the months of July and September as this will assist them to build-up immunity by the time the midges become active in spring.  All suspected cases must be reported to the Department’s veterinarian unit immediately.

The Department is working together with the South African Police Service in this initiative.

Statement Issued by Directorate Communication Services – Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development