SA on high alert after Zim foot and mouth outbreak

RUSTENBURG – THE  SADepartment of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) said on Friday it had noted with concern reports of the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Zimbabwe.

“FMD is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals. These include domestic livestock such as cattle, pigs, goats and sheep as well as cloven- hoofed game species such as buffalo,” said spokesperson Makenosi Maroo.

She said a meeting between the directors of animal health/veterinary services of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe was held in Harare at the end of August.

“The aim of the meeting was to assess and discuss the current FMD situation in Zimbabwe. The chief veterinary officer of Zimbabwe assured the two counterparts that the situation is under control, albeit at great expense. The drought that Zimbabwe experienced resulted in a number of cattle moving southwards to designated relief grazing—when the disease had already been discovered.”

She said measures to mitigate risks that could threaten the country’s FMD-free zone status had been instituted by the Zimbabwean veterinary authorities.

“Over 450,000 doses of vaccine have been procured and delivered to different parts of the country where there is active FMD infection. Out of this, 70,000 doses have been dispatched to parts of Matebeland South Province, bordering South Africa and Botswana and vaccination in the area is presently on-going. A total of 120,000 animals in the southern border area of Zimbabwe are expected to be vaccinated at least twice by end of September to bring current outbreaks in the area under control.”

The department urged farming communities in the area to be vigilant and to report any sightings of cattle that may have strayed across the border, or any known activities facilitating movements of livestock into the country.

“Additionally, the department advises the farming community not to put their cattle into the Madimbo Corridor for grazing. This will prevent any possible contact with infected cattle.”

South Africa regained its FMD-free zone status in February 2014, following the 2011 outbreak. A number of markets were lost, some of which have still not been opened yet.

“The South African livestock industry cannot afford another setback at present. FMD is a transboundary disease that requires cooperation and collaboration between and among neighbouring countries. Zimbabwe, Botswana and RSA are working together to contain this outbreak and prevent its spill over into RSA and Botswana.” – ANA