Epidemiology of African horse sickness and the role of the zebra in South Africa

  • B. J. H. Barnard
Conference paper


Zebra are the only equine species native to South Africa. These animals roamed over much of the country in the 17th century when horses and donkeys were first imported. The first cases of African horse sickness (AHS) then occurred in the horses of hunters who entered zebra territory. AHS continued to occur on a country-wide basis until the beginning of the 20th century, though the number of outbreaks decreased as the populations of zebra collapsed through overhunting. For most of the 20th century almost all free-living zebra have been confined to the north-eastern parts of South Africa which are now the only areas in the country where AHS is endemic; though when climatic conditions are favourable, temporarily, it spreads beyond these areas. The minimum size of a zebra population necessary to maintain a focus of AHS virus is unknown but the small, isolated populations that have inhabited the majority of South Africa for most of the 20th century are apparently insufficient to maintain the virus in the long term. In this context, the restocking of many parts of the country with zebra should be viewed with caution since conditions may be generated that will facilitate the re-establishment of permanent foci of AHS virus.


African Horse Sickness Virus African Horse Sickness Mountain Zebra Equine Species Equus Burchelli 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Barnard BJH (1993) Circulation of African horse sickness virus in zebra (Equus burchelli) in the Kruger National Park, South Africa, as measured by the prevalence of type specific antibodies. Onderstepoort J Vet Res 60: 111–117PubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Barnard BJH (1997) Antibodies against some viruses of domestic animals in southern African wild animals. Onderstepoort J Vet Res 64: 95–110PubMedGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Barnard BJH, Bengis R, Keet D, Dekker EH (1994) Duration of viraemia in zebra (Equus burchelli). Onderstepoort J Vet Res 61: 391–393PubMedGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Churcher CS, Richardson ML (1978) Equidae. In: Maglio VJ, Cook HBS (eds) Evolution of African mammals. Harvard University Press, Cambridge/Mass., pp 379–422Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Coetzer JAW, Erasmus BJ (1994) African horse sickness. In: Coetzer JAW, Thomson GR, Tustin RC (eds) Infectious diseases of livestock. Oxford University Press, Cape Town, pp 460–475Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Davies FG, Lund LJ (1974) The application of fluorescent antibody technique to the virus of African horse sickness. Vet Rec 17: 128–130CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Erasmus BJ, Young E, Pieterse LM, Boshoff ST (1978) The susceptibility of zebra and elephants to African horse sickness virus. In: Bryans JT, Gerber H (eds) Equine infectious diseases. Proceedings of the 4th international conference on equine infectious diseases, Lyon, France, 24–27th September 1978. Veterinary Publications Inc, Princeton, NJ, pp 409–413Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Erasmus BJ (1965) Attenuation of viscerotropic horse sickness virus in tissue culture. Bull Off Int Epiz 30Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    George M, Ryder GA (1986) Mitochondrial DNA evolution in the genus Equus. Mol Biol Evol 3: 535–546PubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Henning MW (1956) Animal diseases in South Africa, 3rd ed. Central News Agency, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Howell PG (1963) Emerging diseases of animals. 11, African horse sickness. FAO Agric Stud 61: 71–108Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Jupp PG, Mclntosch BM, Nevill EM (1986) A survey of the mosquito and Culicoides of two localities in the Karoo region of South Africa with some observations on bionomics. Onderstepoort J Vet Res 47: 1–6Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Lubroth J (1988) African horse sickness and the epizootics in Spain. Equine Prac 10: 2633Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Meiswinkel R, Nevill EM, Venter GJ (1994) Vectors, Culicoides spp. In: Coetzer JAW, Thomson GR, Tustin RC (eds) Infectious diseases of livestock. Oxford University Press, Cape Town, pp 68–89Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Mellor PS (1993) African horse sickness: transmission and epidemiology. Vet Res 24: 199–212PubMedGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Penzhorn BL (1975) Behaviour and population ecology of the Cape mountain zebra (Equus zebra Linn. 1758) in the Mountain Zebra National Park. DSc Thesis, University of Pretoria, South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Sidney J (1965) The past and present distribution of some African ungulates. Trans Zoo Soc Lond 30: 1–397Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    Skinner JD, Smithers RHM (1990) The mammals of the southern African subregion. University of Pretoria, PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Smithers RHM (1986) South African red data book: Terrestrial Mammals. South African National Programmes Report Number 125: 1–216. Pretoria, CSIRGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Smuts GL (1974) Growth, reproduction and population characteristics of Burchell’s zebra (Equus burchelli antiquorum H Smith 1841) in the Kruger National Park. DSc Thesis, University of PretoriaGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Theal EM (1899) Records of South Eastern Africa collected in various libraries and archive departments in Europe. Gov of Cape Colony vol 3, pp 224Google Scholar
  22. 22.
    Theiler A (1921) African horse sickness (pestis equorum). Science Bulletin No. 19 Department of Agriculture, Union of South AfricaGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Viljoen PC (1978) Ecological aerial survey in the Kruger National Park. Scientific Report 4–92, Kruger National Park, 1992Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag/Wien 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. J. H. Barnard
    • 1
  1. 1.Onderstepoort Veterinary InstituteOnderstepoortSouth Africa

Personalised recommendations