The department of agriculture, land reform and rural development said it remains committed to the safety of horses despite the shortage of the African horse sickness vaccine (AHS).
The current unavailability of the AHS vaccine will have implications on the management of vaccination protocols, the department said, with spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo adding, “We are aware that it may have been impossible for some horses to be vaccinated as required within the time period prior to 31 October.”
In a Food For Mzansi article earlier this week, Onderstepoort Biological Products communications officer Zipho Linda said they were hard at work and had contingency plans to ensure that production outputs increase to meet the demand.
OBP furthermore said that all efforts were being made to ensure availability early in December 2021. The department welcomed this assurance.
Horse owners to get exemption
The department reminded horse owners and breeders of the different vaccination requirements in AHS-free, AHS surveillance, AHS protection and AHS-infected areas respectively.
In all these areas it is strongly recommended that vaccination of horses take place between 1 June and 31 October each year.
“We remind the public that it is an offence to vaccinate their horses in the AHS-controlled area after 31 October, unless written exemption has been granted to do so by the national director of Animal Health,” Ngcobo said.
Individually written and motivated applications for permission to vaccinate outside of the legal window period, under appropriate and strict vector-protected conditions, may be considered. Horse owners and breeders can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on this protocol, if required.
“We suggest that equine owners and managers make contact with their sporting bodies and registering authorities to request that their horses be allowed to compete without having being vaccinated in 2021 due to the shortage,” said Ngcobo.
Only one vaccine in South Africa
Horse breeders and owners are reminded that the OBP African horse sickness vaccine is the only one registered for use in South Africa in terms of the Fertilisers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act, 1947 (Act No. 36 of 1947).
It therefore remains the only approved AHS vaccine in the country.
The use of unregistered products is against the law and is strongly discouraged, regardless of their claimed properties, as the safety and efficacy of unregistered products has not been assessed in equines by the mandated Registrar of Act 36.
“The department also concurs with OBP that the apprehension caused in the market as a result of its product unavailability is regrettable, but we wish to assure all stakeholders that we remain committed to supporting and securing the safety of the equine population,” Ngcobo said.
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