Owners who want to move horses, donkeys, mules and zebra into the Western Cape are warned once again not to do so without following legally prescribed protocol on African horse sickness (AHS) and obtaining a permit first.
The provincial department of agriculture issued a new warning to remind equid owners that many areas of the province have been closed for direct movement into its AHS-controlled area.
The warning follows a dramatic increase in highly contagious and deadly AHS cases in the endemic zone of the country in recent months.
“All provinces and Beaufort West have been affected either with total or partial movement restrictions into [our] AHS-controlled area,” the department says in its statement.
It warns that owners may need to use a registered stop-over quarantine facility before entering the province but, even so, will still need their permit.
Permits can be obtained at firstname.lastname@example.org. The list of registered stop-over quarantine facilities can also be requested at this address.
Meanwhile, the vaccination period in the province’s AHS-controlled area is now underway (1 June to 31 October of each year) and owners are also reminded that no vaccinations may be given from November onwards.
Vaccination may only be done with permission from state veterinary services, which can be requested from email@example.com.
The department says applications are processed on a first come, first served basis.
“The above requirements are applicable by law and legislated under the Animal Diseases Act 1984 (Act 35 of 84),” the authorities warn. “Your compliance and assistance with the implementation of these control measures is greatly appreciated, as it is to the benefit of the health of the entire equine industry.”
The Western Cape department of agriculture has furthermore warned livestock farmers to be vigilant in preventing the spread of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) to areas that are yet unaffected.
“New cases are still being reported in North West and KwaZulu-Natal, following the movement of animals from the control area bordering the Kruger National Park and after infected animals were sold at auctions,” the department says.
The Western Cape is currently still free of FMD and measures are being put in place to maintain its free status. All livestock owners are called upon to purchase livestock only from reliable sources and, preferably, not from affected provinces.
It explains that, as the disease has an incubation period of up to two weeks, animals could appear healthy while in fact carrying the disease. “Auctions create high-risk opportunities for animals from different origins to gather, mix and move to new locations. Buying animals at an auction … is not recommended.”
The department also recommends to farmers that a certificate from a private veterinarian accompanies all purchased animals. The vet should confirm that the disease isn’t present in the area of origin and that the animals being moved are clinically healthy. Animals must then be kept isolated at the destination for at least four weeks while being watched closely for signs of illness, before they join the rest of the herd.
“If everyone works together and handles the movement of animals responsibly,” the department says, “we can prevent the disease from entering our province – and the severe financial losses that come with it.”
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