The Animal Diseases Act 35 of 1984 (hereafter referred to as “the Act”) came into operation on the 1st of October 1986. In time it will be replaced by the Animal Health Act 7 of 2002, but for now the first mentioned act is still in force.
This act places a duty upon the government to ensure that animal diseases and parasites do not spread and the measures that should be implemented to improve the health of animals.
There are mainly two reasons why the health of animals should be protected and promoted. First and probably most important is the health of humans. We are all aware that certain animal diseases can spread to humans in various ways, the most common probably eating contaminated animal products. Secondly, the trade in animals and particularly wild animals are an important part of our country’s economy.
The Act contains a list of controlled diseases. Once animals are tested positive for one of these diseases the Act prescribes specific measures that should be taken by the government, more specifically the relevant state veterinarian, and what measures should be introduced to ensure that the disease does not spread. Diseases on this list include the following amongst others:
- Foot-and-mouth disease (cloven hoofed animals)
- Newcastle disease (poultry and birds)
- Rabies (all animals)
- Salmonella (poultry and birds)
- Rinder Pest (cloven hoofed animals especially cattle)
- Tuberculosis (all animals except fish, reptiles and amphibians)
There are several state veterinarians for each province and there are also state veterinarians at national government level in the service of the Department of Agriculture. Each district in a province will have a designated state veterinarian. It is these people that should apply the measures when there is an outbreak of a disease. The Act prescribes measures for every controlled disease and it varies from isolation and tests, immunizations, dipping treatment and also the destroying the infected animals in cases where it is a highly infectious and dangerous illness.
There are very strict measures for the import and export of animals. The main reason for this is to prevent the spread of certain diseases across international borders. The Act makes provision for quarantine stations that should be set up where imported animals must be kept. The Act further provides that no animal may enter the country without a permit. The permit must first be obtained before the animal can be transported to South Africa and they can only enter the country in places as determined by Act 91 of 1964 better known as Customs.
In order to obtain a permit it must be ascertained that the animal does not carry any controlled or other diseases. Therefore, animals and even pets will be tested by a veterinarian before they can enter the country. Animals must be tested once they arrived in the country as well. The Act provides that the animal must first be detained at customs for these tests to be done. The Director of Animal Health will have to give written permission that the animal can be let out of detention and enter the country’s borders.
The Act also places an obligation on owners of animals and the owners of the property where animals are kept to prevent animals being infected and the spread of disease. If a controlled disease do break out the persons should immediately report it to the officials, e.g. notify the concerned state veterinarian and then the measures prescribed in the Act, should be applied. It is also the Animal Diseases Act that gives the government the power to destroy stray animals under certain circumstances.
It is important that the government fulfill their obligations as prescribed by the Act, not only to promote and protect the health of animals, but also our health.
This article is a general information sheet and should not be used or relied on as professional advice. No liability can be accepted for any errors or omissions nor for any loss or damage arising from reliance upon any information herein. Always contact your financial adviser for specific and detailed advice.