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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Boost for South Africa’s international horse exports

AHS Control – Roadblock Report

EHF, SAPS and W Cape Veterinarian Collaboration

Stop Over Quarantine Facilities

Summary of Movement Control

Significant Developments in AHS research


About the scientific study:



The recent risk assessment for African horse sickness (AHS) in horses exported from South Africa has now been published in the prestigious peer-reviewed international scientific journal, PLOS ONE confirming that the work is scientifically valid.

According to lead author, Evan Sergeant, an internationally renowned epidemiologist from AusVet, “The likelihood of undetected AHS infection in horses exported from South Africa can be minimised by appropriate risk management measures, including vector-protected pre-export quarantine and PCR testing in a low-risk area for AHS, such as the current Free Zone in the Western Cape.

Based on model results there would be an average of one undetected infected horse exported for every 185,000 horses exported from the low-risk area, assuming no post-arrival quarantine.

This equates to an annual probability of 1.6 cases per thousand years, assuming 300 horses exported per year. Post-arrival vector-protected quarantine and additional PCR testing would further reduce this likelihood.

The final choice of risk management measures required depends on the level of risk acceptable to the importing country, and this publication will now assist importing countries in making accurate, science based decisions regarding AHS exposure risk.

Link to paper:

Says Prof Ian Sanne, Founding Director of the Equine Health Fund, who commissioned the risk assessment, “The implication of these findings is that the gates have swung open much wider for the export of South Africa’s sought after racehorses, endurance horses and sports horses. The depreciation of our currency also augurs well for this industry. We are currently exporting around R250 million per year but this can easily increase to R1 billion.”

“Import and export conditions are negotiated between the veterinary administrations of two countries. One of the important factors importing countries take into account is the level of risk an import poses. A sound risk assessment such as the one that has just been published, allows the importing country to make decisions based on science.”

African Horse Sickness (AHS) has been affecting South African horse exports for decades and key stakeholders in the industry have been working to find long term solutions to these challenges. In 1997 a small free zone was established in the Western Cape, enabling horse exports to the European Union (EU). However, trade has been disrupted several times due to regular outbreaks of AHS in the controlled area. Currently, the country is losing out on investment because of the onerous and expensive process of importing horses from South Africa.

Mike de Kock, a top racehorse trainer comments, “South African horses are very competitive on the world stage and our results speak for themselves. Our horses are in demand but we have difficulty with delivery which is hurting this industry financially. With efficient export we could create thousands of jobs and bring in massive foreign investment.”

For South Africa to regain free zone status with the European Union and OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health), it takes two years without outbreaks, followed by submission and consideration of a dossier. The recent outbreak in Paarl fell within the qualifying two year free period. In the words of leading breeder, Mick Goss, “it is by no means the end of the world”.


Mr Goss went on to say: “What this outbreak does prove is the effectiveness of the excellent work which has been done on the surveillance side, plus we now have the considerable added advantage of PCR testing in place. Besides, the measures proposed by an independent international body like AusVet in limiting risk is a dimension we were never able to offer in the past.”


EHF thanks the SAEF members for their contribution, through horse registration levies, towards the fight against African horse sickness. These funds have been paid directly to the Equine Research Centre and will be used for African horse sickness surveillance in the AHS infected zone of South Africa, with the aim being to document the AHS virus types circulating in the infected area. The total budget for 2016 for this ongoing project is R200 000. In the project, incurred samples collected from horses showing clinical signs indicative of AHS are subjected to investigation. Results of these tests are reported directly to the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) for incorporation in their official reports of AHS occurrence in South Africa. A total of 411 cases have been opened as part of this study since 1 September 2015, and these included examination of samples from in excess of 600 horses. (Each African horse sickness season runs from 1 September – 31 August.)



Following the changes in industry structures, The Horse Import Export Task Team (HIETT) was formed to replace the Import Export Working Group with the first meeting held on Monday 11th August 2014. The task team has met once a quarter since. The HIETT is made up of veterinary representatives from DAFF, Western Cape Veterinary Services, Wits Health Consortium (Equine Health Fund), SA Equine Veterinary Association (SAEVA), ERC (Equine Research Centre), SA Equestrian Federation (SAEF). Additional veterinary/non veterinary members will be co-opted when necessary. Dr Beverley Parker is the elected chairperson with Mrs N-J Freeman as secretary.


A.      To exchange information on equine diseases in South Africa with emphasis on trade and international movement of horses;

B.      To assess the practical problems of surveillance, control and eradication of infectious diseases of equines in South Africa;

C.      To assist with scientific guidance on the development of policies relating to control of equine diseases with the potential to affect trade in equines;

D.      To assist with improving the collection, use and interpretation of statistical information on equine diseases in South Africa to facilitate disease reporting.

The following is a short summary of salient points that were discussed at the eighth meeting on the 5th February 2016:

1) Stakeholders Meeting

Feedback on a meeting held between Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP), Equine Research Centre (ERC), Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (OVI), Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF), and the Equine Health Fund (EHF) on 29th October 2015, was given. At this meeting, OBP gave assurances that the AHS vaccine distribution problems would not reoccur and OBP currently have a large stock of AHS vaccine. ERC has made a large amount of AHSV sequence data available on Genbank.

2) AHS Surveillance Reports

Serology results are difficult to interpret in vaccinated populations. Concurrent RT-PCR testing is done to facilitate analysis and reporting. .

3) AHS RT-PCR Validation

The OIE Biological Standards Commission confirmed receipt of a dossier for the Guthrie RT-PCR.

4) Risk Assessment

A Risk Assessment on the export of African horse sickness from South Africa was prepared by a team lead by Dr Evan Sergeant of AusVet. The risk assessment was presented at ISVEE (International Symposium of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics) in Mexico in November 2015. A summary was presented by Dr Grewar at the International Movement of Horses Committee meeting in Hong Kong in December 2015, and by Dr Sergeantat the Asian Racing Conference in India in January 2016. The paper has been submitted for publication in a Scientific Journal.

5) USA Veterinary Import Permits

The Department of Agriculture Forestry and Fisheries are discussing updates to Veterinary Import Permit conditions with the USDA.

6) CEM Update

A meeting was held at DAFF offices on 3 December 2015 between industry (Studbook), experts (ERC and UP) and DAFF. A representative working group (Studbook, SAEVA, TBA, ERC and UP) will be formed and will meet in February 2016. The working group will address the way forward for CEM surveillance and country status.

7) Movement Control Workshops

EHF has been requested to organise movement control workshops for State and Private Veterinarians, specifically in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal, with the aim of clearing up the responsibilities and processes pertaining to movement control.

8) SAEVA Disease Reporting

Dr Grewar has designed an on line disease reporting system for SAEVA, together with a manual, for use by veterinarians to report equine disease occurrence in the field. SAEVA will discuss an incentive scheme for reporting.

9) Passport Meeting with Studbook

A passport meeting was attended at the Studbook offices in Bloemfontein in February 2016. All studbook members agreed to a standard identification drawing and description. The main objection from Studbook is the cost associated with having the ID and vaccinations completed by a veterinarian (cost, availability, distance).

10) Exports to the European Union (EU) – Formation of a Task Team

Prof Ian Sanne has been in touch with Dr Mpho Maja, Animal Health Director at DAFF, requesting direction regarding the process to re-open exports to the EU. A task team has been established, which will meet as soon as Dr Maja is available.

11) Namibian Sport Horse Quarantine

Discussions are underway in connection with movement control conditions for a big endurance ride in Bredasdorp in October 2016, which will attract about 20 Namibian horses.

12) Passport requirements for National Trials in Victoria West

There is a show scheduled for 9-13 February that involves Saddlers, Friesians and Hackneys. The correct passport ID is essential for movement.

13) Hackneys vaccinated >24 months ago in the Controlled Area wanting to attend Champs in IFZ and returning to CA

A concession can only be granted through DAFF. The application procedure will be available on request.

14) Movement of Donkeys and Mules into the CA

There is a difference between EU and SA legislation regarding the definition of equids/equines and where donkeys fit in. Donkeys may only be moved into the Controlled Area via the stop over protocol.

15) Horses in the AHS Controlled Area that are unvaccinated and need to be vaccinated to be exported to Mauritius or Namibia

These horses should be vaccinated between the 1 June – 31 October period, with official permission..

16) Sport Horse Movements to Zimbabwe and Zambia

Zimbabwe and Zambia are becoming active particularly with FEI shows. The Zimbabwe Veterinary Import Permit for horses to return to SA contains a3 month residency clause. The Zimbabwe veterinary authority would have to communicate with DAFF regarding dispensations.

17) Notice period for export quarantine

A two week lead time will be required before the start of pre-export quarantine to ensure the ERC is prepared to test samples.

18) Import permit conditions for imports from Australia

Australia has challenged the inclusion of a strangles clause on the SA Veterinary Import Permit. 


 A controlled animal disease is an animal disease:

·         the suspicion or confirmation of which, by law, must be reported to the nearest state veterinarian and

·         control measures have been prescribed. (In addition, any animal disease which is not indigenous or native to South Africa is automatically a controlled animal disease.)

A notifiable animal disease is an animal disease:

·         the suspicion or confirmation of which, by law, must be reported to the nearest state veterinarian.

(Click here to download the letter from DAFF listing the Controlled and Notifiable Diseases)


Before we update you on the situation following the AHS related death in Paarl, we thought we should introduce you to our expanded team, who are all mentioned in the update.

The EHF is delighted to welcome Dr John Grewar to the team in the W Cape. We also welcome Esthea Russouw back from maternity leave, and Dr Phillippa Burger who has now taken up a full time position having worked part time for the past year.

Dr John Grewar joined the Equine Health Fund team on the 1 April 2016 as a senior researcher. John’s responsibility is the development and implementation of surveillance systems and movement control systems for trade sensitive equine diseases focussing on the facilitation of trade.
John completed his Bachelor of Veterinary Science (BVSc) degree at the end of 2006 at the University of Pretoria and immediately enrolled for an MSc (Veterinary Science) under the supervision of Prof. Alan Guthrie of the Equine Research Centre. Three years later he was awarded his Master’s degree for his dissertation titled the “Use of temperature sensitive microchip transponders to monitor body temperature and pyrexia in Thoroughbred foals”.

John started working as an epidemiologist in the State department of Agriculture, Veterinary Services in the Western Cape in October 2009 until he moved across to the Equine Health Fund on the 1 April 2016. Since 2009 he has been the primary author in 3 peer reviewed journal publications with research themes of outbreak investigations in equines of Annual Rye Grass toxicity, Equine Encephalosis and African horse sickness respectively. He has also co-authored a further 7 publications involving general themes of social network analysis, avian influenza, landscape ecology and PCR testing of African horse sickness. Along with the mentioned research topics he has an interest in the management of data and the attempt to streamline data flow within organisational structures within the veterinary epidemiologic environment. He was president of the Southern African Society of Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventive medicine from 2011 through 2013 and received several awards including the South African Veterinary Association Young Veterinarian of the Year Award in 2011 and the Southern African Society for Veterinary Epidemiology and Preventative Medicine Willie Ungerer Memorial Epidemiology Prize in 2014.

We congratulate Dr Phillippa Burger (left) who recently achieved her Masters cum laude. Phillippa is a valuable addition to the EHF team, and assists Dr Camilla Weyer on surveillance and outbreak management in the Western Cape.


All the vaccine manufacturers provide data in their package inserts which states that the vaccine will protect infected horses “from clinical signs” for a period of 1 year. Most equestrian sporting bodies require horses to be vaccinated every 6 months.

The difference in times relates to the duration of immunity providing “protection against infection” versus “protection from clinical signs”. As you approach the latter months leading up to a year after EI vaccination, a horse can be infected with EI but show no clinical signs (i.e. it may be a Trojan Horse that can unwittingly be shedding virus at events). Therefore, responsible equestrian sporting bodies require that horses are vaccinated every 6 months and thereby ensure that the vast majority of the horses that are competing are “protected from infection”. This reduces the chances of subclinical EI being transmitted at events.

It is a fact of life that a large proportion of horses that do not compete in events but remain at home are not vaccinated. Therefore, if there was sub-clinical infection of horses protected from clinical signs at shows and this was then taken “home” it has the potential to result in explosive outbreaks which would be blamed on the sporting body that organised the event. Furthermore, these sporting bodies derive their income from such events and such an outbreak would result in cancellation of events with a direct effect on the income of these sporting bodies.


(This is a short extract summarised from the final outbreak situation report issued by the Western Cape Department of Agriculture on the 13 June 2016)

“Movement restrictions as a result of the Paarl AHS cases have been lifted as of 13 June 2016 after a period of 40 days had elapsed since the last detected case in May 2016. Including the initial case, 21 horses on eight properties within the established containment zone tested positive for infection with AHS virus. Six of these horses experienced clinical signs of illness, resulting in a total of four deaths.

Written requests for AHS vaccination in the AHS surveillance zone will once again be considered by the Boland State Veterinary office.”

The focus of the EHF fund team will now be on publishing a report on the outbreak which details the surveillance, movement control and epidemiology of the event in order to better understand events of this nature and help in future prevention and control thereof.

Gloria Kilian posted a message on Facebook at the start of the outbreak : “I would like to publicly say a huge big thank you to Camilla Weyer, Danielle Pienaar, Philippa Burger and John Grewar from the Equine Research Team. When I was notified yesterday of the AHS case very close to my yard these four people worked tirelessly all afternoon to take blood samples from each and every horse in my yard and add them all to their database to monitor over the next few weeks. Many people in the horse community are so quick to get angry when a situation like this arises. I listened to Camilla and Danielle endlessly and repeatedly answering hundreds of calls all afternoon until late evening from concerned horse owners and show holding bodies. I have to give the highest praise to them for their patience and dedication that they give to our entire equestrian community and to our sport. Thank you - thank you - thank you!!!!”

African Horse Sickness movement restrictions lifted


Please read the notice below pertaining to containment in the W Cape Surveillance Zone following the death of a horse, which tested positive for African horse sickness.  The Equine Health Fund and Equine Research Centre are supporting the WC DAFF in the investigation of the outbreak. All owners with horses planning to travel to the upcoming sales, or shows, from the containment zone should confer with their treating vet and the state vet for movement certificates. 
Further information will be provided as soon as it becomes available. Queries should be directed to Bev Parker (082 578 7044) or Camilla Weyer (083 710 2408). 

Click here for notice.

Risk Assessment


The Equine Health Fund enlisted the help of internationally acclaimed Epidemiologist, Dr Evan Sergeant, of AusVet, to conduct an assessment on the risk of exporting horses from South Africa, particularly with regard to African horse sickness.  Dr Sergeant worked in collaboration with the Horse Import Export Task Team (HIETT), in particular Prof Alan Guthrie (Equine Research Centre), Dr John Grewar (Western Cape Department of Agriculture – Veterinary Services) and Dr Camilla Weyer (ERC Epidemiology Unit).  Dr Sergeant presented his paper at the International Symposium for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (ISVEE Congress) in Mexico in November 2015, and it was very well received.  This project was generously funded by Rainbow Beach Trading and Drakenstein Stud.

African horse sickness risk assessment – Summary Report


The aims of the project were to:

·         Model the probability of undetected AHS infection in horses exported from an infected zone/country;

·         The model assumed:

Ø  OIE recommended vector-protected pre-export quarantine (PEQ)

Ø  16 day pre-export quarantine and AHS RT- PCR test prior to and during the PEQ period

Ø  Quarantine facility located in either low-risk (current free zone) or endemic area (rest of SA)

Ø  Included the addition or not of post-arrival vector-protected quarantine (PAQ) and PCR in the importing country

Model Summary

·         Five pathways identified possible times where an undetected, infected horse could be exported, depending on when infection might occur in relation to quarantine period and PCR testing.

·         Pathways modelled in a quantitative probability model.

·         Probabilities entered as probability distributions to reflect uncertainty about true values.

·         Results presented as median estimate and 95% probability interval.


·         The median annual probability of exporting one or more undetected infected horses from the low-risk area, assuming 300 horses exported annually, was 1.6 x 10-3 (95% interval: 1.5 x 10-4 – 1.2 x 10-2), with no post-arrival quarantine.

·         Addition of post-arrival quarantine and PCR further reduced the risk by about 12-fold.

·         Exporting from the endemic area increased the risk by about 16-fold.

·         Assuming a higher (and more realistic) value for PCR sensitivity reduced the risk by 7 and 77-fold, without or with post arrival quarantine and PCR respectively.

·         The most important risk period was the 12 days immediately prior to entering quarantine.


·         AHS risk can be managed

·         Exports from the low-risk area and/or with post-arrival quarantine and PCR testing

·         Higher risk for endemic area can be managed by post-arrival vector-protected quarantine and PCR

·         The model assumes that exports can occur year-round and regardless of the occurrence of AHS outbreaks.  Risk could be further reduced by :

Ø  Limiting exports to low-risk time of the year or

Ø  Suspending exports during outbreaks

Ø  Extending the proposed quarantine period (currently 16 days in the model)

Ø  Final choice of risk management measures depends on the level of risk acceptable to the importing country.

The median probability of an export horses being infected and not detected was equivalent to one undetected infected horse in every 187 000 horses exported from the low-risk area with no post-arrival quarantine.  An additional PCR test while in vector-protected post-arrival quarantine reduced this probability by 12-fold.

Probabilities for horses exported from an area where AHS is endemic were approximately 15 to 17 times higher than for horses exported from the low-risk area under comparable scenarios.

Import and export conditions are negotiated between veterinary administrations of the two countries. One of the important factors importing countries take into account is the level of risk an import poses. A sound risk assessment allows the importing country to make decisions based on science. South Africa will use the information in the risk assessment to negotiate with potential importing countries.



The following is a short summary of salient points that were discussed at the seventh Horse Import Export Task Team (HIETT) meeting held on the 28th October 2015:


1)      African horse sickness(AHS) Vaccines

There is no evidence of a repeat of the problems experienced last year in terms of AHS vaccine supply, although some veterinarians have complained about the method of distribution via Bayer and UTI. The complaints are receiving attention from the vaccine supplier, Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP).


2)      AHS Surveillance Reports

·         Serology Report August 2014 – August 2015: All samples up to August 2015 had been tested and results logged.  Dr John Grewar is collating the report.

·         Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) Report August 2014 – August 2015: All samples up to end August 2015 had been tested and results logged. Dr John Grewar is collating the report.

·         Monthly Surveillance Reports: Reports will be issued monthly by Dr John Grewar and will include a methods paragraph and maps.


3)      AHS RT-PCR Validation

All validation testing has been completed for the test developed at the ERC and there have been no issues with robustness.  A dossier for evaluation will be submitted to the OIE Biological Standards Commission by mid-January 2016.


4)      UAE Visit

A UAE delegation visited South Africa in June 2015 to assess the control of African horse sickness in South Africa. The delegation is awaiting the outcome of the RT-PCR test validation. 


5)      Risk Assessment

A Risk Assessment on the export of African horse sickness from South Africa was prepared by a team lead by Dr Evan Sergeant of AusVet. The risk assessment was presented at ISVEE (International Symposium of Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics) in Mexico in November 2015.


6)      Olympic Bid

There is no confirmation from the Department of Sport and Recreation that South Africa will bid to host the Olympics in 2024. The implications of African horse sickness (AHS) on the Equestrian Olympics will need to be carefully considered.


7)      Import of horses from neighbouring countries

Direct movement from a neighbouring country to the AHS Controlled Areas (CA) is not permitted. In order to enter the AHS CA a 40 day residency in the AHS infected zone of SA or a minimum of a 14 day stopover in a registered facility with a negative RT- PCR test for AHS is required.  The Veterinary Import Permit (VIP) application form has changed to include details of the stopover quarantine for horses moving from a neighbouring country into the AHS CA.


8)      Reporting of AHS cases by laboratories to a central point

In addition to the mandatory reporting of all suspect cases of AHS and all AHS laboratory results (positive and negative) to the state vet, appeals are being made to each of the provinces with regard to the additional reporting of AHS laboratory results to a central point. 


9)      Import of horses from the USA – Vesicular Stomatitis

DAFF are finalising changes to the Veterinary Import Permit (VIP) for horses from the USA. Input on the clause regarding Vesicular Stomatitis was requested. The HIETT has not seen the final draft but DAFF agreed that any changes to Veterinary Import Permits would be handled in a timeous and transparent manner to minimise trade disruptions.


10)   Contagious Equine Metritis (CEM)


·         Pregnant mare quarantine testing: DAFF confirmed that the current protocol lists bacterial culture as the test required for clearance of mares and foals in pregnant mare quarantine. Problems have been experienced with culture in terms of delayed transportation, samples getting lost en route etc.  Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (OVI) have confirmed that they will receive and test samples for CEM culture 7 days a week as long as prior arrangements are made.  DAFF require all samples from pregnant mare quarantine to be tested by both culture and RT-PCR and registration of facilities will depend on the ability to comply. The Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) for pregnant mare quarantine facilities will include strict instructions regarding testing.

·         DAFF agreed to discuss and report on closing the CEM outbreaks and submit a report to the OIE (World Organisation for Animal Health).  Substantial information has been gained from the Equine Research Centre (ERC).  Ongoing stallion screening is required to underpin a future claim of country freedom.

·         Studbook have had resistance from several breed societies regarding the costs associated with the annual CEM screening of stallions. A meeting between DAFF and relevant breed societies has been arranged for 18th November 2015.

·         CEM in semen has been identified as a problem. Industry needs to ensure there is a current negative CEM certificate for donor stallions at the time of semen collection.

·         If there is continued resistance to stallion screening from certain breed societies, it may be necessary for individual breed societies e.g. the thoroughbred industry, to appoint a project leader to evaluate the risk of CEM in the thoroughbred population and establish a code of practise for CEM in the thoroughbred population, as is done in the UK.

11)   Taylorella asinigenitalis (CEM in a donkey)

The ERC identified T. asinigenitalis via RT-PCR in an imported donkey jack during post arrival quarantine.  The organism had not been picked up during pre-export testing in the country of origin. The donkey was successfully treated at the veterinary faculty. Credit must go to Prof Guthrie for the identification and successful treatment- i.e. the introduction of “donkey CEM” into South Africa was prevented.

12)   European Union (EU) Protocol

June 2016 will mark 2 years after the last outbreak of AHS in the AHS controlled area.  A task team will be formed to prepare for a probable Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) audit ahead of an application to reinstate direct exports from South Africa to the EU.

13)   Import from Zimbabwe to South Africa

Horses from Zimbabwe have to be tested for Surra, which is an emerging disease worldwide, prior to importation into SA.  Testing can be done at the OVI.

14)   DAFF approval of laboratories

The previous DAFF Approval program was terminated at the end of 2014. SANAS Accreditation is a requirement for all laboratories testing for controlled and notifiable diseases. Results for controlled and notifiable animal diseases from laboratories without DAFF approval will not be accepted. Laboratories may apply to the Director for dispensation should they have temporary challenges in complying with the current requirements.

15)  Vaccination permissions in the CA outside the 1 June – 31 October period

Applications to the Director of Animal Health for permission to vaccinate for AHS in the CA outside the restricted period must follow a detailed protocol and include valid reasons to support the application. 


What is Equine Herpes Virus?

There are two types of herpesvirus found in SA, namely EHV-1 and EHV-4.

The respiratory tract is a common site for replication for both viruses, and therefore nose to nose contact can lead to transmission from infected to susceptible horses. Horses can become lifelong carriers with triggers leading to “activation” of the virus and subsequent shedding. Stressful conditions can lead to activation. (Similar to having a cold sore as a human)

Clinical Signs

EHV-1 is a primary respiratory disease, which can lead to late term abortions, foal death, neurological symptoms.

The respiratory symptoms are normally seen in all cases; the neurological symptoms (hindlegs are wobbly, can even lead to paralysis, urinary incontinence), are normally preceded by the viraemia, which means that at the time of the symptoms you will not find virus in the blood.

EHV-4 is normally restricted to the respiratory tract. Fever, coughing, nasal and ocular discharge.


Contact the Equine Research Centre to arrange testing by PCR. The best sample is a dry nasal swab, and this should be accompanied by an EDTA (purple top) blood sample. In the case of abortions, foetal lung samples and placental tissue (FRESH and never in formalin) as well as a vaginal swab from the mare are the specimens required for testing.

Treatment and Control

Symptomatic treatment is the mainstay. The infection is normally mild and self-limiting.

Prevention of spread is critical and direct contact is the main form of spread.

Vaccination options are available. Contact your vet for more information.

This disease is considered endemic in RSA. As EHV is not a controlled disease, no specific state veterinary control measures are in place for EHV.

Responsible horse ownership must be relied on. Basic hygiene principals at shows and within stable yards are paramount to successful control. Direct contact with horses from other yards should be avoided, as well as use of shared water buckets etc. In the face of an outbreak, horses should be separated into groups or if possible, housed individually, until the outbreak is under control. This applies especially to pregnant mares, as an aborted foetus is a large source of virus for other mares within the same paddock.


Dr Camilla Weyer for sample organization (Best done in consultation with your vet)

076 152 2782


Dr John Grewar, State vet Epidemiology in the Western Cape, attended the 14th International Symposium for Veterinary Epidemiology and Economics (ISVEE) which took place in Mérida, Mexico from 2-7 November 2015.

The following extract is taken from THE WESTERN CAPE EPIDEMIOLOGY REPORT, VETERINARY SERVICES, November 2015, Volume 7 Issue 11, compiled by Dr John Grewar


One of the congress days revolved around climate change and the vast impact climate change has on the epidemiology of diseases. 

Increased temperatures cause an increase in number and an expansion in range of vectors and pathogens, while indirectly, land use and biodiversity are changed by the changing climatic conditions.

For instance, bluetongue virus replicates faster at higher temperatures, and vectors are more susceptible to infection at these increased temperatures. In the host, increases in environmental temperature cause a higher degree of physiological stress, decreasing immunity and therefore increasing the risk of disease. Additionally, a drying climate causes more farmers to switch to irrigating their crops, creating new habitats for vectors in previously unsuitable areas.

(The same principles would apply to African horse sickness.)

Veterinary professionals should therefore be aware of the effects of climate change in their areas and the previously unencountered diseases that may occur as a result.

Movement Restriction Feb 2016

A ban on the direct movement of horses into the Western Cape’s African Horse Sickness (AHS) Controlled Area zones comes into effect on Monday (1 February 2016). Alan Winde, Minister of Economic Opportunities, said the movement restrictions meant that all horses entering the province’s AHS Controlled Area would spend 14 days at a stop-quarantine facility.

"We need to protect our status as an African Horse Sickness free zone. The high risk AHS season is from 1 February to 30 June. In order to manage the risk, all horses entering the province during these months will be held at an approved facility for a minimum of 14 days. “After this period, they will be tested to prove they are free of AHS. This test will take place at a lab approved by the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The horses will be then able to enter the Western Cape’s AHS Controlled Area.” Minister Winde added that according to the AHS Control Policy: Movement Control Protocol, all horses entering the AHS Controlled Area, from an AHS Infected Zone, must have been vaccinated within the past two years and not less than 40 days prior to entry. The Standard Operating Procedure for AHS Stop-Over Quarantine is attached. (A list of Stop Over Quarantine facilities can be obtained from Danielle Pienaar, 082 936 3604,

Report for Industry HIETT

Importers of horses from Zimbabwe – read letter from DAFF regarding requirements



It has become apparent that some vets are doing AHS I and II vaccinations less than 21 days apart, e.g. on the 9th and 29th of a month. This causes problems for vets who are called to issue movement health certificates as a vaccination that is done even 20 days apart instead of 21 days apart has not been done according to manufacturer’s recommendations and is therefore not valid. This is a reminder to all equine veterinarians, as well as horse owners that AHS vaccinations must be done according to manufacturer’s recommendations to be regarded as valid – that means AHS I and AHS II must be done at least 21 days apart.

High health, high performance (HHP) horses: risk mitigation strategies and establishment of specific health requirements

Greyton Outreach – July 2015

Report by Dr Phillippa Burger

On a chilly Western Cape winter day, 17 July 2015, a successful outreach to indigent horses and donkeys in the Greyton area was coordinated by Sharon Orpen (Greyton Equine Outreach) and hosted by the Greyton Riding Club. The team included Dr Kate Meiring (Cape Vet Equine Practice), Werner Gouws (Animal Health Technician, State Veterinary Services: Swellendam), Dr Phillippa Burger (MSc student, Equine Research Centre, University of Pretoria), Graham Haddow (Greyton Riding Club) and a number of volunteers, Sharon, Jill and Nicky, from EARS (Everyone’s Animal Rescue Society).

Despite the cold, there was a good turnout. 104 horses/donkeys were seen. Most had been microchipped on previous clinic days but 24 new microchips were inserted.

Each horse was checked by Dr Kate Meiring:

 with notes made in a personalized booklet and advice given to owners
 the database was updated with any owner detail changes recorded
 wound care was dealt with
 all horses were vaccinated for AHS, dipped and dewormed and microchipped if not already done

Ascot Stud and Wicklow Stud each very kindly donated R10 000 worth of AHS vaccines. This donation was facilitated by the EHF (Equine Health Fund). Western Cape Department of Agriculture also contributed AHS vaccine and dewormer.

The Equine Research Centre donated the microchips, while BringMeHome donated a microchip scanner that was used on the day and will be used on future occasions.

Dip was purchased with the funds from public donations.

Many thanks must go to the team and to the volunteers who came out to help. On previous occasions, farriers and dentists have also provided services and it is hoped that they will join in again next time.

A Central Database – the AusVet Solution

Dr John Grewar is, in addition to being a Chief State Veterinarian in the Western Cape, technologically savvy and he was the ideal candidate to send to a workshop in Australia on Information Systems in July 2015.

Dr Grewar wrote :

“The proposed AusVet information system for equine health in South Africa has advantages over traditional information systems. The data provider (be it the equine owner, holding manager, consulting veterinarian, State Veterinarian or testing laboratory) plays a key role in the development of the system and derives the most benefit as a result of meaningful feedback. Data entry is primarily focussed on:

 firstly solving issues that any given data provider may have. The data that is captured in solving these problems is then used to assist the project stakeholders with their goals, like showing trace back capabilities with movement data, or showing evidence for freedom of disease using negative reporting.

 secondly, the AusVet system is a developed platform where an administrative level user can, with some very basic technological training, create reports and add functionality to the entire system. This allows the system to evolve based on the needs of data providers and stakeholders without the input of hard coded programmer inputs, which can get expensive and take time to implement. In short – if change is necessary, change can easily be implemented.

Should stakeholders invest resources (time, money and personnel) in this system and if they follow the philosophy of treating the data provider as a primary focus, then there is an opportunity to create an equine health information system which will be sustainable, relevant and maintainable in the years to come.”

The introduction of the AusVet Information System in South Africa will facilitate disease reporting, surveillance and movement control and will go a long way to being able to satisfy the OIE, EU and other prospective trading partner’s requirements for Disease Control and Monitoring. Even more importantly, it will facilitate understanding and disease management for owners, veterinarians, epidemiologists and researchers. Substantial funding – in the region of R4 million -is needed to go this route.

How long is the AHS Vaccine Effective

According to the OBP AHS vaccine pamphlet, “Foals born of unvaccinated dams can be inoculated at any age but foals of immune dams should not be vaccinated until they are at least six to seven months old.”

Dr Jacob Modumo, Business Development Officer of Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP), who manufacture the registered AHS vaccine, assisted with the following clarification: With foals, or horses vaccinated for the first time, there may be serotype “competition” or immune-dominance of some of the serotypes. These more dominant serotypes can suppress the least dominant ones to replicate enough to stimulate an immune response. That is why the vaccination pamphlet advises that “It takes up to 2-3 vaccinations for horses to become immune to all serotypes in the vaccine.”

According to the Animal Diseases Act 35 of 1984, it is compulsory to vaccinate all horses in South Africa except horses in the African horse sickness free zone and the African horse sickness surveillance zone between the ages of 6 and 12 months, then between the ages of 12 and 18 months and then again once every year thereafter with an effective remedy.

After 3 vaccinations, tests have shown that annual vaccination results mostly in sero-conversion that picks up in 6-8 weeks post vaccination and lasts at protective level for a minimum of 10 months. Levels drop below protective level mostly from 11-12 months post vaccination. This is the justification for the recommended annual vaccination.

Responsibility of show venues reporting AHS cases

Following enquiries regarding whether or not a show holding body may withhold the fact that a horse tested positive for AHS on the property:

1. According to the Animal Diseases Act (35 of 1984 ) Section 11:

(1) Any owner or manager of land on which there are animals, and any owner in respect of animals, shall, whether or not such owner or manager has obtained advice regarding the health, or any certificate of fitness or health of the animals in terms of section 13 (1) (c), from the director -

(a) take, with due observance of the provisions of this Act, all reasonable steps to prevent the infection of the animals with any animal disease, or parasite and the spreading thereof from the relevant land or animals, or which are necessary for the eradication of animal diseases and parasites on the land or in respect of the animals; and

(b) whenever such animals -

(i) have become or can reasonably be suspected of having become infected with any animal disease or parasite, apply in respect of such animals the prescribed treatment or any other treatment which may be deemed suitable and customary in the particular circumstances; and

(ii) have become or can reasonably be suspected of having become infected with any controlled animal disease, immediately report such incidence in the prescribed manner to the director.

And According to Regulation 12 of the same Act:

(1) The reporting of the incidence or suspected incidence of a controlled animal disease by a responsible person in terms of section 11(1)(b)(ii) of the Act shall forthwith be done verbally to the responsible State Veterinarian or responsible technical officer, and shall be confirmed in writing as soon as possible thereafter.

[Subreg. (1) amended by R.2358 of 10 December 1993]

(2) A report referred to in subregulation (1) shall-

(a) contain the name, postal address, residential address and telephone number of the responsible person making such report;

(b) furnish a description of the infected or suspected of being infected controlled animal or thing, including any identification, brand or ear mark that occurs thereon;

(c) specify the symptoms shown by the controlled animal or thing concerned; and

(d) contain a description of the place where the controlled animal or thing concerned and, if applicable, any contact animal and any progeny or product of such animal are isolated as contemplated in regulation 13.

(3) A responsible person shall also forthwith bring the incidence or suspected incidence of a controlled animal disease referred to in subregulation (1) to the notice of-

(a) each owner or manager of adjoining land and each owner of susceptible animals on the same or adjoining land; and

(b) each prospective buyer of his susceptible animals as well as a person who has bought susceptible animals from him during the immediately preceding 30 days.

So taking the above into account, and having discussed the matter with the relevant people at DAFF, it would in fact not be legal to withhold information about the occurrence of AHS on a property from owners whose horses could be directly affected by an AHS positive case on that property.

In order to take legal action, there would be two options:

1. The affected owner of a horse could report the case to the Director of Animal Health, who could then lay a criminal charge against the alleged offender for contravention of the Animal Diseases Act.

2. The affected owner could lay a civil claim against the responsible show holding body. The owner would need to prove damages and show that the damages were as a result of the horse attending a show on the property where the responsible show holding body failed to notify owners about a case of AHS on the property. Damages could include a claim resulting from movement restrictions.

The short answer is “yes”, it appears that show holding bodies could be held liable if they failed to report the occurrence of SUSPECT AND CONFIRMED cases of a disease on the property to competitors. Riders should be encouraged to put pressure on their competitive bodies to make it a requirement that to be registered as a show holding body, mandatory disease reporting responsibilities must be undertaken.


The attached report shows an encouraging trend regarding the number of outbreaks for 2014/15 to date.

It is however of concern that official reporting of outbreaks via the official SR1 state veterinary system is not being followed in many cases. Horse owners are requested to actively encourage and assist State Veterinarians to follow the correct reporting procedure.

Many owners will be pleased to note that the pre-movement AHS vaccination period has been reduced from 60 days to 40 days which is in line with the OIE infective period for AHS and is as a result of discussions between DAFF and the Horse Import Export Task Team (HIETT).

2015 06 AHS report 2015 Version 5 - amended 2015 06 26

SA Horse Movement Controls

Please see below e-mail and attachments with regard to horse movement controls.




Dear Colleagues


As of the 1st July 2015 movement of horses from the infected zone into the AHS Controlled Area will revert to the normal process according to the notice sent distributed by SV Boland in December 2014 (See attached). As a reminder to all I also attach the current AHS Movement Control Protocol.


Please also find attached our new prenotification form (Word Document) that MUST be filled in and sent through to and copy in PRIOR to movement of any horse into the Controlled Area, or across zones within the Controlled Area. If you cannot email the form and need to fax please use the fax number 086 558 9818.


Please take note of the following points on this prenote:


1. the destination and origin holdings are very important, as we often have to use this form in order to follow up on horses that have moved after an outbreak has been reported


2. The contact details at destination are of equal importance for the same reason


3. Please make sure you are aware of what passports are acceptable for movement purposes, for example the old Studbook passports without the proper horse ID picture and description are not acceptable., and in the case of passports from other countries that do not have AHS vaccination and movement control pages in them, please ensure that you contact either SVBoland or Dr Weyer ( to ensure that all the correct documentation accompanies the horse.


4. Please note the addition of the paragraph stating which state vet you as the vet have been in contact with to ensure that there have been no AHS cases within the last 30 days in a 40km radius


Please remember that for this pre-note and for the Health certificate that you are signing in the passport, it is your name that you are signing and, therefore your responsibility to ensure that the details in the passport are correct. DO NOT sign a health certificate of a passport that has no details in it. Especially one that does not have the identification page filled in. DO NOT sign a Health Certificate for a horse that you are not sure where it comes from (eg in your parking lot, in the horse box, for someone who is not your bonafide client).


Please remember that all horses moving into the Controlled Area from the infected zone need to have a health certificate 48hrs prior to movement, a movement permit from the state vet of origin which is valid for 14 days, and then the prenote must be completed and sent in as described above.


For movements within the Controlled Area, across zones must have a health certificate 48hrs prior to movement and the pre-note sent as described above. 


Please note that the Health Certificate should be IN the passport except for exceptional cases which have been arranged with SVBoland or Dr Weyer.


Please do not hesitate to contact me at any time for queries or contact Danielle Pienaar ( for help with movement organisation and contact details for different areas.



Dr Camilla Weyer 


DAFF authorised Veterinarian (Ref: 1/2/1/7/1)

State Vet Boland authorised Veterinarian

(Movement Control and Equine Disease Surveillance)

and Research Officer

Equine Research Centre

Cape Town


AHS Movement Control Policy Dec 2014 (signed)
AHS Movement control temporary amendments Dec 2014 (signed)

Vaccination period article


As per the notification from the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) in March 2015, the following applies to the dates for administration of African horse sickness vaccinations:



AHS Free Zone

Permission for vaccination will only be given from 1 June to 31 October each year.

AHS Surveillance Zone

Permission for vaccination will only be given from 1 June to 31 October each year.

AHS Protection Zone

All equines in this area must be vaccinated within the period 1 June to 31 October each year.

AHS Infected Zone

Strong recommendation is made to vaccinate during the period 1 June to 31 October each year


The manufacturer’s recommendations advise that vaccination with the AHS live vaccine be done in early summer. The Manufacturer has further supported the restriction of vaccination time between 1 June and 31 October each year. In the past most horse owners have tried to time AHS vaccinations to fit in with competition commitments, with many vaccinations done in November/December.  Why should we change now?

There is a very valid reason for DAFF’s strong recommendation that all horses in the infected zone be vaccinated between 1 June and 31 October.   Research on the Porterville outbreak of AHS in 2014 revealed that AHS vaccine virus transmission may have been implicated in the outbreak and that the vaccine virus seems to have been transmitted by midges between horses, some of which had never been vaccinated.  This is a recognised occurrence when modified live virus vaccines are used and it means that modified live virus vaccines should be used responsibly.   It does not make sense to risk vaccinating at a time when the vector is most active, i.e. during the high vector season of November to May.

Says Professor Ian Sanne, Founding Director of the Equine Health Fund, "This is an important breakthrough in the understanding of the live attenuated vaccine, and outbreaks in the ‘control zone’ in the Western Cape.  It is important that equestrian sport and racing organizers consider the impact of the new vaccination schedule on the calendar planning and sports events. A period of low or no competition in the winter months of July and August will help support the competitors and trainers to complete the vaccination schedules. The traditional vaccination time in December/January forms part of the high transmission risk period and is not suitable for safe vaccination. It is conceivable that a change in vaccination timing, and an improvement in vaccine coverage will reduce the incidence of AHS disease significantly."

Benefits of vaccinating during the recommended period

·         Horses vaccinated between 1 June and 31 October will have had sufficient time to respond to the vaccine ahead of the high risk period.

·         By vaccinating between 1 June – 31 October, i.e. during the time when vectors are much less active, there will be a significantly reduced risk of infection resulting from the involvement of AHS vaccine virus and therefore transmission of the virus to other, possibly more vulnerable horses.

·         Horses vaccinated during the period 1 June to 31 October, will be able to move into the AHS Controlled Area following a 40 day post vaccination movement restriction.  


Horse Import Export Task Team article



In light of the current obstacles to importing and exporting horses mostly due to African horse sickness (AHS), and particularly with the intention of Government to bid for the 2024 Olympics, it became necessary to set up a task team that will address these obstacles in an urgent manner.  HIETT is facilitated by EHF.


It was agreed that members of the task team should consist of veterinarian representatives from

·         Government (DAFF and W Cape Veterinary Services. Other provincial veterinary services would be included as and when required);

·         Equine Health Fund (EHF);

·         Equine Research Centre (ERC);

·         South African Equine Veterinary Association (SAEVA);

·         South African Equestrian Federation (SAEF)

Additional veterinary/non veterinary members may be co-opted when it was felt they would benefit the HIETT.

The HIETT is chaired by Dr Bev Parker.


Terms of Reference


The Terms of Reference for the HIETT are as follows:

·         To exchange information on equine diseases in South Africa with emphasis on trade and international movement of horses;

·         To assess the practical problems of surveillance, control and eradication of infectious diseases of equines in South Africa;

·         To assist with scientific guidance on the development of policies relating to control of equine diseases with the potential to affect trade in equines;

·         To assist with improving the collection, use and interpretation of statistical information on equine diseases in South Africa to facilitate disease reporting.


The members of HIETT are, with the exception of the secretary, veterinarians who have knowledge of the major diseases of equines, as well as experience in international trade in equines.  Members from industry may be co-opted as required.  The HIETT was established in August 2014 and meets quarterly.


Issues being addressed by HIETT include :

·         AHS Outbreaks

·         AHS vaccination: Change in the AHS vaccination policy arising out of ERC research findings from the 2014 Porterville outbreak; liaison with AHS vaccine manufacturer re vaccine supply

·         Movement control:  policies- high risk areas, low risk areas, elite performance horses, imported horses, approval of new stop-over facility en route to Surveillance Zone

·         Surveillance: Sentinels, post outbreak surveillance, national reporting of AHS cases

·         AHS Diagnostics: Validation of RT-PCR tests;

·         Liaison with  AusVet expert epidemiologist, Dr Evan Sergeant, who has been appointed by EHF to conduct a Risk Assessment focussing on AHS which will be used in negotiations with Trading Partners.  The objective of the Risk Assessment is to evaluate the risks of AHS infection in horses exported from an infected country if appropriate risk management measures are taken;

·         Trade visit from the UAE

·         Liaison with Government re an Olympic Bid and the importance of the equestrian aspect of the Games;

·         High Health High Performance Horses (HHP)- OIE guidelines;



Please read this important notice just released by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, pertaining to vaccinating of horses against African horse sickness.

Click here to download the letter.

You Want to Help in the Fight Against AHS? Here’s How You Can

The Equine Health Fund’s (EHF) main purpose is to raise much needed funding to support the fight against African horse sickness and other equine diseases. If you read the Prospectus contained in the EHF website,, you will see what a huge undertaking this will be.

There have been several requests from horse lovers wishing to contribute to this fight, and we are happy to provide you with two options :

1. Payment made directly to the Equine Health Fund. To do this, donors should complete the attached Donation Form, and e-mail proof of payment, together with the completed form to, and this will ensure that the funds go to the rightful project. We recommend that any donation under R1000 be paid this way. Click here to download Donations Form.

2. Should you wish to make a larger donation (>R1 000), for which you require a Section 18A Tax Exemption Certificate, this will need to be done to the Equine Research Centre via the University of Pretoria. To make a donation, please send your details : Full Name, ID No., Postal Address (in the case of a company making the donation, also give the company name) to Nora-Jean (NJ) Freeman will then forward your details to the relevant department at the University of Pretoria. Shortly thereafter you will receive a letter from UP giving you a Donor Number and a Reference Number which you need to use when making the payment. This will make sure that the funds are allocated to the Equine Research Centre. You will receive a Section 18A certificate soon thereafter.

Should you have any further queries, please don’t hesitate to contact N-J Freeman.

Equine Health Fund Participates at Saeva Congress Stellenbosch, February 2015

LtoR : Esthea Russouw, N-J Freeman, Camilla Weyer, Phillippa Burger (absent, Bev Parker and Danielle Pienaar)

The Equine Health Fund took the opportunity to raise awareness of its activities at the recent SA Equine Veterinary Association (SAEVA) Congress held in Stellenbosch in February.

The Equine Health Fund took the opportunity to raise awareness of its activities at the recent SA Equine Veterinary Association (SAEVA) Congress held in Stellenbosch in February. Considerable interest was shown in the efforts of EHF, with many delegates taking copies of the EHF Prospectus and Horse Export Strategy documents to peruse. Some were willing to pledge donations to the fund there and then, and we thank Hobday Equestrian Enterprises, EquiFeeds, Coenraad de Bruin, Glen Austin Equine Clinic, Crowthorne Veterinary Clinic and Helen Tiffin for their pledges.

Rider Exchange with China on the Cards

L – R : Ulrich Sanne, Bob Neill, Jim Ye, Ian Sanne, Chang Wei, Niel Kirstein, Dineo Molomo, Henning Pretorius, Clem dos Santos, Wessel Strauss, Ingeborg Sanne, Jenny Neill

In an exciting development, at a meeting with key representatives from China, who are keen to find investment opportunities as well as set up an rider invitational exchange programme with South Africa, commitments were made by both parties to make this happen. This meeting was facilitated by Prof Ian Sanne of Equine Health Fund.

The Chinese delegation included Chang Wei of the Beijing Horse Society and Jim Ye, car race circuit owner keen on investing in horse race tracks and equestrian facilities in South Africa. They are interested in the invitation of riders to compete at major events, particularly in the disciplines of Endurance, Show Jumping and Dressage. The South African contingent at the meeting included Dineo Molomo, Acting President of SAEF who committed to engage with Wei and Ye to ensure that these opportunities are acted upon. Also present at the meeting were Niel Kirstein (VP Endurance), Bob Neill (Chairman SA Showjumping) and Jenny Neill and Ingeborg Sanne (International Liaison for Dressage), who all pledged support for the initiative.

It is therefore very likely that international competition between the two countries will commence in the near future. Other opportunities discussed were the export of South African horses to China, and a competition between riders from China, UAE, France and South Africa.

African Horse Sickness: The Effect on the South African Economy and the Olympic Games

Representatives of the equine industry, Mr Larry Wainstein, Mr Vumile Gqomose and Dr Bennie van der Merwe (who also serves on the Equine Research Centre Management Committee and the Horse Import Export Task Team) were given the opportunity to enlighten the Parliamentary Portfolio Committee on Agriculture on the challenges South Africa faces with African horse sickness (AHS) and the effect this disease has on the South African economy and the possibility of South Africa hosting an Olympic Games.

Dr van der Merwe, who conducted the presentation, highlighted the impact that AHS has on the ability of SA to export horses at their full value – for instance SA horses are sold for 25% of their value owing to the onerous export protocols that are a result of AHS. It was also pointed out that the ability of SA to host the Equestrian Olympics is an integral part of the bid process and without a plan in place by 2017, the chance of a successful bid for the 2024 Olympics is unlikely. The plan depends on SA’s ability to manage African horse sickness and a high level task team that includes representatives from for e.g. the Departments of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries; Sport and Recreation; Trade and Industry; Science and Technology, and needs to be formed urgently.

A new generation vaccine for AHS, that is internationally recognised and validated, would go a long way to solving the AHS problem. A vaccine candidate (as well as a highly sensitive PCR diagnostic test) has been developed by the Equine Research Centre, University of Pretoria but funding is needed to complete the process. Just 10% of the R500 million promised by Government to Onderstepoort Biological Products will go a long way to solving the problem.

Why a Central Horse Database in South Africa?

Over the past few years, at various meetings and workshops involving the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the European Union (EU), the Federation Equestrian Internationale (FEI), as well as local government, it has become increasingly evident that a major stumbling block to the control of African horse sickness (as well as other equine diseases), and thus to the potential of exporting horses, is the lack of suitable and accessible surveillance and horse data. Currently there are several databases which don’t ‘talk to each other’ and which do not meet international standards. The overriding advice of international experts is that South Africa needs a central database of all horse data.

The EU report of 2013 highlighted this as a problem, as did Prof Evan Sergeant of AusVet in his Surveillance Report following a visit to South Africa in October 2013. The matter was raised again at the Horse Export Workshop in April 2014, following which DAFF representatives met with the Equine Industry representatives to discuss the development of a central database that supports movement control and disease reporting. A Central Database sub-committee was subsequently established, and is actively looking into possible solutions for a central database. Without accurate and available data, there is a critical missing link that will cause all the hard work of research, surveillance and movement control to be nullified.

These are just a few of the recommendations, which relate to the maintenance of data, made by Prof Evan Sergeant in the AusVet Report:

  • Review movement control system and documentation
    A review of the process and requirements for horse movements into and within the area, including approval process and documentation/records is now appropriate to ensure a comprehensive, functional and auditable system is in place before submitting a Free Zone application.
  • Review horse identification and census systems
    Current systems for collecting and collating census information are labour intensive and incomplete and horse identification is incomplete and relies on multiple systems. Again, a review should consider the opportunities provided by recommendations for a shift to an integrated information management system, a critical element of which would be a unique horse identification system.
  • Review information management and develop an integrated information management system
    A critical component of maintaining a Free Zone and satisfying OIE and trading partners of its integrity is accurate, accessible and auditable data on all relevant aspects of the program. Currently a variety of systems are in place and are not well integrated, so that a review of information requirements and development of an integrated system to manage data is required. As part of this process it should be possible to take advantage of new technologies to simplify and streamline data collection and reporting.

Similarly, the EU report of their inspection in May 2013 following the mandatory ban on exports for 2 years after the Mamre AHS outbreak in 2011, included the following in their findings :

  • Insufficient surveillance data was available for the Western Cape Free-Zone and Surveillance Zone to prove absence of AHSV after an outbreak and to comply with routine surveillance requirements for AHS and Dourine. Vector surveillance inside and outside the quarantine facility should support vector protection.
  • There was inadequate control of movements with auditable documentary proof and inadequate legal powers to control movements.

A high priority development is a single identification system for horses in South Africa, linked movement control, disease surveillance and reporting. One of the major problems highlighted during preparation for the OIE submission and during the EU visit was the need for an integrated database to facilitate easy input of data that will co-ordinate all data sources and can be used to monitor progress and generate reports required by trading partners.

For export and an Olympic bid the surveillance data is critical.

At a meeting attended by Prof Alan Guthrie in February 2014, together with the OIE and FEI, the matter of South Africa’s intention to bid for the 2024 Olympics was discussed, with the following being a few of the concerns raised :

  • Identification of horses should be internationally acceptable;
  • Movement protocol;
  • Importance of central database, which will prevent alterations post veterinarian signature;
  • Legal framework to cover all horses and forms of identification;

All relevant stakeholders will be involved
The implementation of a central database will be undertaken in consultation with the DAFF, Western Cape Veterinary Services, the Animal Health Forum, and Government Communications and Information Systems. It is envisaged that, once a system is identified (this is a high priority for the Equine Health Fund), the first phase of the roll-out will be in the Western Cape, and will then move out to the rest of the provinces.