Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak hits northern KZN
A ban on moving or transporting all cloven-hoofed animals, including livestock and game, has been imposed in a number of districts in northern KwaZulu-Natal in an attempt to stop a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak from spreading.
The animal travel ban covers the King Cetshwayo and Umkhanyakude districts as well as the Nongoma and Ulundi municipalities and Pongola in the Zululand district municipality.
Agriculture minister Thoko Didiza confirmed the outbreak on Sunday, after tests carried out on cattle with “suspicious lesions” at a communal location in Mtubatuba.
The department collected samples on May 26 during routine disease surveillance.
The diagnosis was confirmed by the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Laboratory the day after. The lab is now conducting “viral typing” to determine the identity of virus while officials from the provincial agriculture and land reform and rural development departments investigate the extent of the outbreak.
“No movement of live cloven-hoofed animals is allowed into and out of or through these districts,” the department said.
Farmers were urged to not let new animals into their herds and to minimise moving their herds to other farms.
The restrictions would be reviewed in two weeks' time, pending the result of the investigation.
The site of the outbreak is in an area that was part of the FMD-free zone prior to the suspension of this internationally recognised status by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) in 2019, the department said.
The OIE notes that FMD is a highly contagious viral disease which if allowed to spread can have devastating effects.
FMD is a highly contagious viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep and goats, with significant economic impact if it is allowed to spread.
In the wild, all species of deer and antelope are susceptible to FMD but some, such as the Cape buffalo, can carry the disease without showing symptoms.
Symptoms of the disease include fever, lameness, and vesicles and sores in the mouth, feet, teats and mammary glands. Affected animals may show signs of depression, excessive salivating and a reluctance to eat.
In unvaccinated animal populations, the number of animals that can contract the disease can be as high as 100%, the OIE said.
While adult animals rarely die from FMD, mortality is high in juveniles.
The disease does not affect human beings.