Quarantine, vaccinations as foot and mouth outbreak in Limpopo village hurts SA exports

14 January 2019 - 14:28 By TimesLIVE
Foot and mouth disease affects cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed animals including wildlife. Signs of the disease may include depressed animals, sores in the mouths causing reluctance to eat and lameness. Any suspected case of the disease in animals must be reported to the local state veterinarian immediately.
Foot and mouth disease affects cattle, pigs, sheep, goats and other cloven-hoofed animals including wildlife. Signs of the disease may include depressed animals, sores in the mouths causing reluctance to eat and lameness. Any suspected case of the disease in animals must be reported to the local state veterinarian immediately.
Image: REUTERS

A disease management area has been declared in Limpopo as authorities try to contain an outbreak of foot and mouth disease - which has led to bans of South African meat imports by neighbouring countries.

"The impact this has had on trade in the past week has been devastating to say the least. I urge all affected industries to work with my team in minimising the impact," agriculture, forestry and fisheries minister Senzeni Zokwana said on Monday.

Vaccination in the 20km radius around the village of the Vhembe district where the FMD virus was confirmed will commence immediately.

The disease management area encompasses the area enclosed by the R81, the R36, N1 and the R524 roads. The exact boundaries of this area will be published in the government gazette. 

"No movement of cloven-hoofed animals is allowed within, into or out of this area - complete standstill," the department said.

In addition, the movement of cloven-hoofed animals (including wildlife) and unprocessed products out of the Mopani district and Vhembe district as well as the Molemole municipality of Capricorn district, "is discouraged until further notice". 

The department said, "Only products processed using methods validated to inactivate the FMD virus are safe to be moved out of the area. Movement permits which were issued for this purpose are henceforth withdrawn."

The estimated number of cattle in the 20km around the affected village is 15,000.

"This does not mean that all 15,000 animals are infected, but there is a risk that they may become infected through contact with sick cattle. They are being vaccinated to prevent further spread of the disease," said the department.

The department said regaining FMD-free status would be a long process "which is going to be very demanding on us".

- In a separate statement issued in conjunction with the Red Meat Industry after a meeting in Pretoria, the department said: "We want to emphasize that the outbreak is limited to Vhembe district, at Sundani village. The affected cattle is less than 50 in an area with about 10,000 to 15,000. The area remains under quarantine and the vaccination process is beginning so that no further infections can occur. FMD is not transmittable to human beings and there should be no panic whatsoever."

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