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Summaries of EU Legislation

Measures against African horse sickness

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Measures against African horse sickness



Directive 92/35/EEC — control rules and measures to combat African horse sickness


African horse sickness is a viral disease affecting all equidae* which is usually fatal in horses and could have serious socio-economic consequences. The directive sets out control rules and measures to combat the disease.


  • If one or more horses on a holding is suspected of having African horse sickness, the relevant authorities should be notified immediately. The authorities should place the holding under official surveillance, and put in place the following measures:
    • an official census of the equidae, including those already dead, infected or liable to be infected;
    • a census of places conducive to carrier insects;
    • a full enquiry and a clinical examination of the equidae;
    • equidae are to be kept protected against carrier insects;
    • movement of equidae to or from the holding is prohibited;
    • efforts to eradicate carrier insects where equidae are housed;
    • equidae carcases are to be destroyed.
  • If the disease is confirmed, measures put in place will include:
    • all infected equidae, or those presenting symptoms, are to be killed immediately and the carcases destroyed;
    • the precautionary measures for holdings suspected of the disease are extended to holdings within at least 20 km of those where infection is confirmed;
    • equidae within this 20 km zone are to be vaccinated, except in specific circumstances.
  • A protection zone of at least 100 km around infected holdings must be set up, where all equidae are clinically examined and movement is banned except to a slaughterhouse within the protection zone or a zone under surveillance. A surveillance zone normally extends 50 km beyond the protection zone in areas where no systematic vaccination has been carried out in the previous 12 months.
  • People living in these zones must be informed of all the restrictions in force. Systematic vaccination of the animals may only be carried out in the protection zone.
  • EU countries must designate a national laboratory to coordinate the response to the disease, working in cooperation with other EU countries and the reference laboratory in Spain.
  • Each country must draw up its own contingency plan to respond to the disease, including setting up a crisis centre and local disease control centres. European Commission experts may make spot checks to ensure that these establishments are fully carrying out their responsibilities.
  • The Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed assists the Commission in managing African horse sickness.


Directive 92/35/EEC will be repealed and replaced by Regulation (EU) 2016/429 from 21 April 2021.


It has applied since 18 May 1992. EU countries had to incorporate it into national law by 31 December 1992.


For more information, see:


equidae: equine animals such as horses, donkeys and zebras, and cross-bred offspring.


Council Directive 92/35/EEC of 29 April 1992 laying down control rules and measures to combat African horse sickness (OJ L 157, 10.6.1992, pp. 19–27)

Successive amendments to Directive 92/35/EEC have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.


Regulation (EU) 2016/429 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on transmissible animal diseases and amending and repealing certain acts in the area of animal health (‘Animal Health Law’) (OJ L 84, 31.3.2016, pp. 1–208)

Regulation (EC) No 178/2002 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 28 January 2002 laying down the general principles and requirements of food law, establishing the European Food Safety Authority and laying down procedures in matters of food safety (OJ L 31, 1.2.2002, pp. 1–24)

See consolidated version.

last update 20.10.2016