Animal health and disease control
State veterinarians (SV) assisted by animal health technicians (AHT) at eight state veterinary offices throughout the province are responsible for the surveillance, control, and eradication of animal diseases. Access a map of the SV areas and contact details for the offices here.
Regular testing, monitoring, and surveillance are conducted on livestock, ostriches, poultry, and pet animals for diseases such as bovine tuberculosis, bovine Brucellosis, rabies, and sheep scab and trade-sensitive diseases such as foot and mouth disease and mad cow disease.
These actions play a major role to provide disease-free guarantees for exports of animals and animal products. The province exports more than 90% of the country’s ostrich meat and other products generated by the ostrich industry. Intensive surveillance for Newcastle disease and Avian influenza and a registration system on ostrich export farms is conducted in several of the state veterinary areas.
A serum data bank has been established to provide scientific evidence on the occurrence or absence of animal diseases. The province is free of the major trade-sensitive diseases such as foot and mouth disease and also has the only African horse sickness free zone in the country from where horses are accepted for export worldwide.
The epidemiology section of Western Cape Veterinary Services is tasked with assisting State Veterinarians during outbreak campaign. Epidemiology also encompasses the design of surveillance programs for various animal diseases and assists in determining the status of diseases in the Western Cape Province. The section maintains animal surveillance databases as well as information on the animal census. It also publishes a monthly newsletter with pertinent epidemiological information which can be used by private veterinarians as an information source.
State veterinarians are responsible for training and education on both a formal and informal basis. Formal training is provided through the Elsenburg Agricultural Training Institute to students pursuing a Bachelors degree in Agriculture in the form of subjects on animal health as well as a registered bovine artificial insemination course. Animal Health Technicians (AHTs) also complete the Tuberculosis and Brucellosis component of their studies under the supervision of a state veterinarian and experienced AHT. Informal training is given to veterinary science students during their studies to expose them to the work of a state veterinarian.
The control animal health technician (CAHT) in each state veterinary office monitors and oversees the work of the other AHTs and also mentors AHT students during their final year of training which is an experiential training year.
Foot and Mouth Disease
Background & clinical signs of FMD
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious viral disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals and has the potential to cause severe economic loss and animal suffering. Foot-and-mouth disease is a government-controlled disease because it spreads so easily and because of its major impact on the country’s economy.
The severity of clinical lesions caused by FMD virus depends on the host species, breed and immune status, and the virus strain. Blister-like lesions form between two and eight days after the animal was infected, though this incubation period can be up to 14 days. The blisters then burst to form erosions or ulcers. In cattle, the lesions occur usually on the top surface of the tongue, though they can occur elsewhere in the mouth and the pain can cause salivation. Lesions on the feet occur between the claws, at the junction of hoof and skin, and on the bulbs of the heel, causing lameness. Teat lesions occur in cows and the pain caused can lead to difficulties in milking and secondary mastitis. In young domestic animals, death can occur suddenly due to damage to the heart muscle. The pain caused by FMD lesions leads to poor growth and production which, together with the highly contagious nature of the virus, is why there are severe trade restrictions on infected countries.
Infected animals start shedding virus, mostly in saliva, before they show clinical signs and can spread the disease directly to other animals or indirectly via animal products, equipment, human contact, feed, and vehicles. The virus is fairly resistant to sunlight and survives long periods in bone marrow, lymph nodes, and blood in large blood vessels.
During the incubation period, animals appear normal and healthy and if they are moved, the disease spreads with them. Auctions, in particular, create dangerous opportunities for animals from different origins to gather, mix, and move to new locations where they can introduce diseases contracted from infected animals at the auction.
For Frequently Asked Questions and Answers click here
Current SA Situation (September 2022)
The national cattle movement ban that was instituted on 16 August 2022 was lifted on 8 September 2022 (See Government Gazette notice 11486). However, the movement of live cattle, sheep, and goats is prohibited in the Disease Management Areas (DMAs) of Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, and Limpopo province, except for slaughter.
Cattle, sheep, and goats moving within areas outside the abovementioned DMAs (including the Western Cape) must be accompanied by the following documents:
(1) Owner declaration attesting to the origin and health status of the animals;
(2) Undertaking of the animal recipient/ buyer at the destination that the animals will be isolated on the farm of destination for at least 28 days before introducing them onto the main herd.
Movements in the Western Cape
The local State Veterinarian should be informed of all movements of FMD-susceptible animals into and out of the province. The State Veterinarian will assess the risk of the movement and may need to inspect the animals after arrival.
Every animal owner outside the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) control area is now on their own to protect their animals and farms against this highly contagious disease.
The animal and land owner, together with his/her family, manager, workers and agents, are directly responsible for preventing animal diseases and the spreading of disease from their animals and land, as stated in article 11 and 34 of the Animal Disease Act (Act 35 of 1984).
The 28 days’ isolation and daily monitoring of new animals on a farm is a recognised mechanism for confirming the absence of FMD. Compliance with the prescribed isolation period, as required in the new regulations and owner’s declaration, serves as proof of compliance with this owner’s responsibility, just as failure to comply will serve as proof of the contravention thereof.
Every owner is entitled to apply additional protection measures to protect his/her farm and animals, for example to refuse the movement of animals from outside the province to his/her land; to avoid the high-risk gathering of animals, such as auctions and shows; and to ask for additional confirmation, such as a veterinarian’s declaration of health. Keep a proper record of such actions to cover yourself against accusations and prosecution should the disease enter our province.
We as state veterinarians and animal health technicians will do our utmost within the framework of the Animal Diseases Act to support the farmers and their industries as well as we can, as this disease can only be overcome if we work together.
To constantly evaluate the risk of disease and enable fast response in case of a suspected case of FMD in order to limit the impact of an outbreak as far as possible, the Western Cape Veterinary Services launched an online movement notification portal for cloven-hoofed animals to our farmers. The invitations and links are currently being distributed and can be accessed here
Our best wishes to all the farmers and their veterinarians on the frontline.
Importation of livestock
Any cloven-hooved livestock that has been imported from a neighboring country and is transported into the Western Cape must be able to show the normal documentation for imported animals and do not need additional owner and recipient declaration
General preventive measures for FMD (in all species)
Currently, the movement ban applies only to cattle, but we call on owners to responsibly deal with the movement of all susceptible animals that may still be moved. Livestock owners and producers need to maintain sound biosecurity practices to prevent the introduction and spread of the virus. Measures that are recommended at the farm level include:
- disinfect vehicle wheels and equipment that move between farms and avoid these movements where possible
- change or clean footwear and clothing when leaving any farm
- do not handle other animals within 5 days of having contact with suspected infected animals,
- only add new animals of known origin and health status to existing stock, and preferably not from auctions.
- quarantine purchased animals for a period of 28 days before mixing with the rest of the herd.
- only allow access to livestock by people and equipment with a known low risk of transferring disease
- monitor and report livestock illness to the local State Veterinarian
- to ensure appropriate disposal of manure and dead carcasses
REMEMBER that people transporting livestock must adhere to Articles 6 and 8 of the Stock Theft Act (Act No 57 of 1959) and ensure that a completed document of identification travels with the animals. Available at: Article 6 document and Article 8 document
- Registration of approved ostrich compartments
- Official control of registered ostrich compartments
- Movement of ostriches between registered ostrich compartments
For forms and procedures relating to these activities, please contact the South African Ostrich Business Chamber (SAOBC)
Read more about the danger of Brucellosis and Tuberculosis spread at auctions and shows!
Brucellosis is a zoonosis which means that it is an infectious disease which can be transmitted from animals to humans. It is caused by bacteria of the genus Brucella. It is primarily a disease of domestic animals (goats, pigs, cattle, dogs, etc) and humans and has a worldwide distribution, mostly now in developing countries.
Cattle affected with Brucella abortus have high incidences of abortions or weak calves, arthritic joints, and retention of the fetal membranes.
Bovine TB is also a zoonosis. It is a chronic wasting disease that causes considerable production losses and is caused by Mycobacterium bovis.
Click here to read more about Bovine Tuberculosis
The Animal Health subprogramme of Veterinary Services conducts TB and Brucellosis testing as part of national surveillance for these 2 important diseases. If a farm is diagnosed positive for either of these diseases, state officials will step in and control the disease which will involve culling infected animals and testing until the herd is once again clean. Brucellosis pamphlet A5 v2.pdf
Once the rabies virus has entered the nervous system there is no cure! The only way to prevent the virus from entering the nervous system is to clean and disinfect the bite wound immediately and to receive very specific medical attention in the form of post-exposure prophylaxis (PEP) so rather take the advice of the saying “prevention is better than cure”.
Click here to read the OIE disease card on rabies.
The Animal Health Technicians of Veterinary Services hold regular campaigns in various areas and on farms to vaccinate dogs and cats and to create awareness about rabies. Not only does Veterinary Services deliver this service free of charge, but they bring it right to the community and agri-workers, where it is most convenient for people who do not have the means to transport their animals to the local vet.
“African horse sickness (AHS) is a highly infectious and deadly disease of Equidae (horses, donkeys, mules, and zebra) caused by the African Horse Sickness virus which is a virus of the genus Orbivirus belonging to the family Reoviridae. AHS is not directly contagious but is spread by the Culicoides midge.
AHS is endemic to South Africa which means that it commonly occurs throughout the country. The Western Cape contains the only AHS-free zone in the country and therefore the only place that horse exports can take place from is Cape Town. As a result of this AHS control is strictly regulated in the province.
AHS is spread by biting midges and the vaccine used is a live virus vaccine. The cause of previous outbreaks of AHS in the AHS controlled area (AHS CA) has been identified as the spread of the vaccine virus between horses by these Culicoides midges. This is the reason why the vaccination period has been restricted to the period when the midges are least active in the AHS CA.
Consequently, African horse sickness vaccinations are now controlled in the AHS protection, surveillance and free zones of the Western Cape. The vaccination season in the AHS CA in the Western Cape is legislated by the National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) to take place between 1 June and 31 October each year. Vaccination against AHS for horses in the AHS Surveillance and Free zones may only occur with written permission from State Vet Boland, and this permission can only be granted for vaccinations that are planned within this period.
Applications for permission to vaccinate against African Horse Sickness open in March every year so that permission can be granted timeously by State Vet Boland before vaccination can begin annually on 1st June in the African Horse Sickness Controlled area (Surveillance and Free zones) in the Western Cape.
Only registered AHS vaccines may be used during this time and it is illegal to use an unregistered vaccine or for a private person to vaccinate their horse in the AHS CA. All AHS vaccinations in the AHS CA must be done by a veterinarian. Permission must be applied for by your private veterinarian who will send an application to firstname.lastname@example.org
Responsible vaccination against AHS decreases the risk of outbreaks in our region, which is to the benefit of our local horse population and increases international market access for South African horses. The public’s adherence to these requirements assists us to ensure there are no further outbreaks, either from the use of vaccines outside the permitted times or from the illegal movement of an infected horse into the area.
For more information visit the Stopover quarantine Protocol
Please take note of the following contact details where relevant:
For applications to move equids into and within the AHS-controlled area and enquiries related to equid movement, please contact email@example.com
For applications to vaccinate equines against AHS in the AHS controlled area and enquiries related to vaccination in the AHS controlled area please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For information about the identification of horses, please contact email@example.com
For Pre-notification of movement please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
For AHS case reporting or information on sample collection for AHS confirmation and testing please contact your local state veterinarian and/or email@example.com
For queries regarding the registration of properties in terms of the Animal Diseases Act 1984 (Act no 35 of 1984) for the keeping of zebra or for movement of zebra within and into the AHS controlled area please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
To report a transgression within the AHS controlled area relating to illegal movement, vaccination or any other equid-related law enforcement matter within or relating to the AHS controlled area please contact email@example.com
For all other enquiries please contact your local state veterinarian.
The Department would like to thank all horse owners, veterinarians and everyone else involved in the equine industry for partnering with us to get direct exports to the EU reinstated.
Follow the link to visit the myhorse.org.za homepage, and for more information on African Horse Sickness control please visit myhorse.org.za VPN Page
2020-04-08 Media release of African Horse Sickness case confirmed
16 April 2021 NOTICE OF OUTBREAK CONTROL AREA: AFRICAN HORSE SICKNESS – CEDERBERG MUNICIPALITY
Situation report: African horse sickness in Cederberg Local Municipality: 20 April 2021
State Vet Offices
The Beaufort West State Veterinary Office is located in Upper Blythe Street. The two state veterinarians together with five animal health technicians (AHTs) are responsible for Beaufort West, Prince Albert, Laingsburg and Murraysburg.
Dr. Jaco Pienaar
Telephone: 023 414 9220/1
The Boland State Veterinary Office is located at the Head office of the Department of Agriculture at Elsenburg. The two state veterinarians together with the control Animal Health Technician and five animal health technicians (AHTs) are responsible for the greater Cape Town area, Paarl, Wellington, Franschhoek, Stellenbosch, Somerset West, and Gordon’s Bay.
Telephone: 021 808 5253
Dr. Vivien Malan
Telephone: 021 808 5028
The George State Veterinary Office is located in Varing Street. The state veterinarian together with one control animal health technician and five animal health technicians (AHT) are responsible for the magisterial districts of George, Riversdal, Mossel Bay, Uniondale, and Knysna.
Dr Leana Janse van Rensburg
Telephone: 044 803 3770/1
Dr. Michael Swart
Telephone: 022 433 8910
The Oudtshoorn State Veterinary Office is located at 39 Van der Riet Street.
The State Veterinarian together with the Control Animal Health Technician and three AHTs are responsible for the Klein Karoo and Kannaland regions, which include the towns of Oudtshoorn, De Rust, Calitzdorp, Vanwyksdorp, and Ladismith.
Dr. Cathy Fox
Telephone: 044 203 9443/5
The Swellendam State Veterinary Office is located on Voortrekker Street.
The state veterinarian together with one control animal health technician and five animal health technicians (AHT) are responsible for the magisterial districts of Swellendam, Bredasdorp, Caledon, and Heidelberg.
Dr. Christi Kloppers
Telephone: 021 808 5059
State Veterinarian: Dr. Chanel Lombard
Telephone: 027 201 3510
The Worcester State Veterinary Office is located in 30 Van Arckel Street.
The state veterinarian together with one animal health technician (AHT) is responsible for the magisterial districts of Worcester, Ceres, Montagu, Robertson, Touwsrivier, and Tulbagh.
Dr. Ansulize Pepler
Telephone: 021 808 5052