The Northern Cape Department of Agriculture, Environmental Affairs, Rural Development and Land Reform, wishes to encourage farmers and horse owners to vaccinate their horses against an African Horse Sickness (AHS).

The AHS is a mosquitoes borne disease that affects horses, not human beings.

The sickness has a seasonal incidence, with the disease associated with heavy rainfall after a long drought period. 

The AHS is a controlled animal disease in terms of the Animal Diseases Act 35 of 1984, with certain measures having been prescribed for its control. 

There are four zones recognised in South Africa for the control of AHS, and the Northern Cape Province is in the AHS Infected Zone.  So far Kimberley area has reported cases of AHS, however, the incidences can also be expected in other parts of the province due to rain and mosquito build up. 

We expect cases of AHS to increase until around May 2022.

Farmers and horse owners are urged to report all suspected or confirmed cases of AHS to the local state veterinary. 

The virus is transmitted by mosquitoes (Culicid midges). The clinical signs may vary from one horse to another due to the clinical form of the disease.  Horses suffering from AHS may show the following signs: 

  • Difficulties in breathing, 
  • Foam from the nostrils,
  • Sweating, 
  • Swelling of the head, neck and above the eyes.

The Animal Diseases Act requires owners and managers of animals to take all reasonable steps to protect their animals and prevent the spreading of diseases. 

If you have a case of AHS on your property, kindly inform your neighbours and anyone who brings horses to your property to help ensure they take precautions to keep their animals safe. All horses must be vaccinated against AHS on a yearly basis- contact a veterinarian for advice on vaccination.

Horse owners can prevent the mosquitoes that transmit AHS from biting their horses by taking the following precautions:

  • Stable your horses from at least two hours before sunset to about two hours after sunrise.
  • Treat your horses and stables with culicid midge repellent and/or insecticide’
  • Do not allow horses to graze on wet, marshy land at the high-risk times of the day if possible.
  • Mosquitoes gather and breed in moist or muddy areas. Eliminate mosquito breeding areas by removing pools or puddles of standing water, siting compost or dung heaps away from the horses and managing muddy areas such as around leaking taps and water troughs.

For more information, please contact an Animal Health Technician (AHT), Private Veterinarian or our State Veterinarian on the following numbers: 087 630 5663

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