Equine Influenza Epidemic Hits South Africa
By staff
Mike Burns, horse racing and betting manager at the South African National Gambling Board, has played down fears that the current equine ‘flu epidemic raging through the Western Cape will damage bookmaking revenues. ''(I) don't foresee that the turnover will be affected at all,' he said. 'If you are a punter and it's in your blood, you will bet on something.' He argued that there is still an abundance of racing elsewhere in South Africa, and that Western Cape punters can bet on UK racing, which they can receive via satellite and the Internet.

All racing has been cancelled in the area following the discovery on Tuesday morning of the highly contagious disease which is similar in symptoms to its human counterpart. Jockey Club of Southern Africa chief executive, Tony Barnes, has said that as many as a thousand thoroughbreds could be affected at the Milnerton Training Centre, where outbreak was discovered. The next few days will be crucial as we see whether the strict quarantine imposed on the centre will be enough to contain the virus. Despite Burns’ assurances, the repercussions for the industry, should the whole country become affected, will surely be catastrophic.

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