The Eastern Cape MEC of Environmental Affairs, Mcebisi Jonas, must intervene and act immediately to curb the spread of the highly infectious and deadly African Horse Sickness that has already claimed more than 20 Eastern Cape horses in the last few days.

For the moment, the outbreak of this disease has only affected the Komga, Kei Mouth and Morgan’s Bay area. But as scared horse owners relocate their horses to other areas, it is very likely that this will spread to other horses, mules or donkeys.

African Horse Sickness (AHS) is one of a number of diseases known to be potentially damaging to the livestock economy. By way of the Animal Diseases Act (Act No. 35 of 1984), AHS has been declared a state controlled disease, thereby empowering the state to implement measures to control the disease. Horse owners are also required by this law to notify their local state veterinarian of any cases of AHS. The Act also requires that all equines (horses, donkeys and mules) must be vaccinated at least once a year with an approved AHS vaccine.

Immediate action will ensure that the disease will not endanger the lives of horses, mules and donkeys across the province, especially considering the affected areas are in the rural part of the province where these animals are used for transport and farming on a daily basis and as a crucial part of many rural families.

The Democratic Alliance will continue to mmonitor the situation and ensure that government fulfils its duty to protect the wildlife within its borders.