Environment

Western Cape areas hit by African horse sickness

Sapa

A horse containment zone has been established in the Western Cape after two animals were diagnosed with African horse sickness.

A breakout of African horse sickness has resulted in a ban on the movement of equids to a specific area in the Western Cape. (Supplied)

A ban on the movement of horses in a specific zone in the Western Cape was enforced on Tuesday, the province's agriculture department said.

The precautionary measure was established after two horses were diagnosed with African horse sickness (AHS), the department said in a statement.

"Two horses have tested positive for AHS on a holding situated between Saron and Porterville, south-east of the R44," it said.

The order stated that "no horses, mules, donkeys, or zebras [equids] may be moved within, out of or through" a specified area. The area included the N7 running from the Berg River, through the Piekenierskloof Pass in the north-east, while the town of Gouda served as the southern boundary of the zone.

"This movement ban will come into force immediately and remain in force until repealed by a further order issued by the department."

Horse sickness hitting animals early
Last month, the movement of horses in the province was also restricted to prevent the spread of the disease. Direct horse movements to the province's AHS control area were strongly discouraged to help protect local horses. 

Thirty-four suspected or confirmed cases of AHS were reported in the country this season, and 22 horses died. "Due to persistent high rainfall in the rest of the country, the number of cases has increased dramatically and [they] are also occurring earlier than in previous years."

The summer rainfall provinces had conditions conducive to the spread of AHS, which was transmitted by insects.

The area immediately surrounding Kenilworth, Cape Town, from where all South Africa's horse exports departed, was free of the disease. – Sapa

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