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PRESS RELEASE  07 July 2022  
To all Equine Owners, Managers, Veterinarians, and other Stakeholders,
The National Horseracing Authority has noted that Onderstepoort Biological Products (OBP) Is experiencing a crisis in the supply of the registered African horse sickness (AHS) live attenuated vaccine. Consequently, this has resulted in industry stakeholders such as vets, trainers, owners, and breeders having limited access to AHS vaccines.
It is recommended that during this time, and any other time, when supply may be an issue, the administration of the AHS vaccine that does become available should be done in a prioritized manner to ensure that optimal disease control is achieved under the crisis of supply.
Below is the order in which vaccination administration should be prioritized by veterinarians during a time of supply crisis:
Horses that are under the age of 3 years old, or with less than 3 sets of vaccinations previously should be vaccinated as priority as they would be at highest risk of infection and disease. This is especially important for horses within the controlled area that are likely to travel as vaccination for these horses can only occur between June and October.
Horses within the AHS controlled area that are likely to travel out of the AHS controlled area and have not been vaccinated within the last 24 months should be prioritized.
Horses in South Africa with less than 6 sets of vaccinations in their life and/or horses that are competing or moving regularly therefore increasing the risk of AHS spread.
AHS controlled area impact
Regarding horses resident in the AHS controlled area (free zone, surveillance zone and protection zone), the legislated permitted AHS vaccination period of 1 June to 31 October 2022 remains in place unless/until DALRRD rule otherwise. The NHA will re-evaluate NHA rules for horses that reside in the AHS controlled area that may be affected by the unavailability of the AHS vaccine individually and in consultation with SV Boland.
“It is an offence to vaccinate horses in the AHS controlled area after 31 October 2022, unless a written exemption has been granted to do so by the national Director: Animal Health at DALRRD. Individual written and motivated applications for permission to vaccinate outside of the legal window period may be considered, under appropriate and strict vector protected conditions.” DALRRD
AHS infected zone impact
Whilst vaccinating outside of the AHS controlled area – in the AHS infected zone – is not recommended to be done post 31 October, it is permissible without written exemption from the national Director: Animal Health at DALRRD. After consultation with industry stakeholders, it has been deemed in this instance that the risk to the population of having a large number of unprotected/poorly protected animals in the AHS endemic areas of the country, especially in areas where AHS outbreaks occur every year, should be mitigated where possible.
As a result, the deadline for vaccinations as per Rule39.1.1 has been extended from 31 October 2022 to 31 December 2022 for all horses that are resident in the AHS endemic/ infected zone.
We urge all responsible persons to consider shielding equines vaccinated after 31 October 2022 from Culicoides midges through the appropriate use of stabling and turn out times, screening over stable openings as applicable, and the responsible use of insecticides and insect repellents registered in terms of the Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act, 1947 (Act No. 36 of 1947).
As per the Fertilizers, Farm Feeds, Agricultural Remedies and Stock Remedies Act, 1947 (Act No. 36 of 1947), the OBP African horse sickness vaccine is the ONLY AHS vaccine registered for use in South Africa.
“The use of unregistered products is strongly discouraged, regardless of their claimed properties, as the safety and efficacy of unregistered products have not been assessed in equines by the mandated Registrar of Act 36.” DALRRD
Please consult the Veterinary Procedural Notice for African horse sickness control (AHS VPN), Important Information Regarding Vaccination against African Horse Sickness (AHS) In South Africa and the Animal Disease Regulations R2026 of 1986 on the DALRRD website for more information.