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South Africa's Current Export Status

Posted: 4/2/2008, 21:41

African Horse Sickness (AHS) Trust
South Africa is entering the AHS high risk period. This is the message from the AHS Trust which is receiving reports of cases on a daily basis from the high risk areas of South Africa, the Northern Provinces. Current hotspots include:
Howick/Karkloof - KwaZulu Natal
Greater Pietermaritzburg - KwaZulu Natal
Broederstroom - North West
Greater North Rand - Gauteng
Pretoria North - Gauteng
Greater Addo - Eastern Cape
Tzaneen - Limpopo

Significantly, there have been no confirmed cases from the South Eastern and Southern Cape this season and the Trust is cautiously optimistic that its 2006/2007 vaccination campaign has protected the majority of susceptible horses in this region and will assist in acting as a buffer against virus introduction to South Africa’s Export Zone in the Western Cape.

Typically the highest number of AHS cases is reported between February and May, with a peak in late March and early April. The AHS Trust has devoted considerable effort in raising awareness of the disease via its website: www.africanhorsesickness.co.za and by regular communications with the broader equestrian community.

Equally, its early warning system plays a crucial role in assisting the SA Veterinary Services implement control measures to limit the spread of the disease, specifically into South Africa’s Export Zone.

Exports from South Africa
South Africa’s export status with the EU (and other trading partners) is entirely dependent on keeping the Controlled Area in the Western Cape free of AHS. Due to its extreme southerly position and geographic advantages (protected by significant physical barriers in the Indian and Atlantic oceans and the Hottentots Holland mountain range), the Cape Peninsular is much less likely to suffer a “natural” outbreak of AHS than other parts of the country are. This is supported by the fact that since the 1960’s there have only been 5 outbreaks of AHS in the Western Cape.

The greatest threat to the Export Zone is, therefore, an “artificial” introduction of virus by the transporting of horses incubating the disease.

Accordingly, Racing South Africa and the SA Veterinary Services urge all horse owners, equestrian organizations and transporters to remain on high alert during the AHS high risk season. Movements from the infected part of South Africa to the AHS Controlled Area should be done in strict accordance with the movement guidelines laid down by the SA Veterinary Services and horse owners should expect to complete a step-wise movement before entering the Export Zone. For more information, please contact:
Dr Gary Buhrmann
Chief State Vet, Boland
021 808 5026
Or alternatively the local State Vet office in your area.

Horses are currently gathering in the AHS Free Zone ahead of the next export quarantine from Kenilworth Quarantine Station. The following are provisional dates for the April shipment which is expected to be confirmed shortly:

KQS EXPORT APRIL 2008

START FREE ZONE RESIDENCY (20 DAYS):                                    from 11 FEBRUARY 2008

START PRE-EXPORT QUARANTINE (40 DAYS):                              from 02 MARCH 2008

DEPARTURE FOR European Union:                                                  from 12 APRIL 2008

International Equestrian Competition
The recent growth in South Africa’s equestrian industries can be largely attributed to having access to global markets and foreign income derived from exports has under-pinned this growth. Whilst the EU protocol, ratified in 1997, has been an export tool to date, it is also the only mechanism available for us to stage international equestrian competition on South African soil, surely the ambition of all serious equestrian sportsmen, women and administrators?

Hosting an international event requires a technical framework that guarantees the re-export of foreign equine athletes. Whether it is an international horserace, FEI World Championships, International Polo Test or Endurance Racing Championships, under the existing regulatory conditions, the event would have to take place within South Africa’s Export Zone which is likely to remain in the Western Cape for the foreseeable future.

As a result, Kenilworth Quarantine Station is gearing itself towards this eventuality and apart from the seven furlong training track, visiting horses will also have access to a horse walker and dressage arena.

Regulatory Environment
Since 2004, Racing South Africa, its strategic partners, Equine Research Centre and Import Export Working Group, and the SA Veterinary Services have been investigating ways in which the regulatory structures can be simplified and made more reliable from an international trade perspective. Significant changes to the EU protocol and the OIE (World Animal Health Organisation) AHS Code Chapter have been proposed and it is hoped that both will be considered, if not adopted by the relevant authorities in 2008.
With the recent arrival of Blue Tongue (orbivirus similar to AHS) in Europe, the threat of AHS is now being taken very seriously by the world’s veterinary authorities. South Africa is in a unique position to improve their understanding of the disease, co-ordinate research efforts and influence regulations that permit international trade to continue following an outbreak of the disease.

This year’s annual South African Equine Veterinary Association (SAEVA) Congress in February has a specific session planned to focus on African horse sickness. It has attracted a number of prominent and influential veterinarians from around the world, a real coup for South Africa and it is hoped that real progress will be made.

Whilst it might be the Year of the Rat in the Chinese calendar, 2008 can be South Africa’s Year of the Horse!

And, like the country’s power crisis a collective effort by South Africa’s horse lovers will help achieve this aim.

Peter Gibson
CEO
Racing South Africa

Monday, February 04, 2008

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