The DA will continue to monitor incidents of African Horse Sickness and the possible spread of the disease. More than 80 horses have reportedly already died in the Kei Mouth/Komga area of the Eastern Cape in the past two months.
Last week I visited the area with my parliamentary colleague, Annette Steyn, to gather more information about the current wave that has swept the area.
She has written to Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to ask for the World Organisation’s Animal Health Unit report, compiled late last year, to provide an overview of the state of animal health affairs in South Africa.
In a statement to the media Steyn said: “Of serious concern are reports over the last few years that even fully vaccinated horses are getting sick and dying of AHS. It has become clear that many owners no longer trust state-run Onderstepoort Biological Products’ outdated vaccines. In some cases they suspect that it may even have caused horses to get AHS.
“At a meeting in Kei Mouth on 2 January this year, representatives of the Department of Agriculture allegedly promised to give free vaccines to horse owners in the Eastern Cape. But it is pointless to hand out ineffectual vaccines.
“It is critical that effective vaccines be developed. In addition, more accurate data must be kept and the Department’s website must be updated to signal where the latest outbreaks are occurring and what preventive measures are being taken. The last outbreak recorded was at the beginning of 2011.
“It is time for Minister Joemat-Petterson to start acting on animal disease problems in South Africa. She can no longer continue to bury her head in the sand,” she said.
The Democratic Alliance will continue to monitor the situation and ensure that government fulfils its duty to protect the wildlife within its borders.