Cape Town - The movement of horses in the Western Cape was restricted on Friday to prevent the spread of African horse sickness (AHS), Western Cape agriculture MEC Gerrit van Rensburg's office said.
Direct horse movements to the province's AHS control area were strongly discouraged to help protect local horses, Van Rensburg's office said in a statement.
Thirty-four suspected or confirmed cases of AHS had been reported in the country this season, and 22 horses had died.
“Due to persistent high rainfall in the rest of the country, the number of cases has increased dramatically and (they) are also occurring earlier than in previous years.”
The summer rainfall provinces had conditions conducive to the spread of AHS, which is transmitted by insects. The area immediately surrounding Kenilworth, Cape Town, from where all South Africa's horse exports depart, was free of the disease.
A wider surveillance zone, extending in a rough curve from the Vredenburg area through Worcester to Somerset West, served as a buffer zone.
Specific protocol, including vaccination and quarantine, was in place in this surveillance zone to prevent AHS spreading to the Kenilworth area.
If the disease reached the export area around Kenilworth, this could jeopardise South Africa's horse export status and cause significant financial losses to the equine industry.
Road sign warnings on the restrictions have been placed on all major access routes to the province. Traffic police and department of agriculture officials were monitoring the movement of horses into the province.