Tuesday, 22 March 2022

Pretoria: The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has confirmed cases of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the North West, Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal.

A case of FMD was confirmed on a commercial stud farm in the North West after the Provincial Veterinary Services conducted epidemiological investigations, following reports, and positive laboratory results confirmed the diagnosis.

The department said the farm and other linked farms have been placed under quarantine, while further surveillance in the area is being conducted to determine the extent of the outbreak.

“A Joint Operations Commission (JOC), supported by the local MMCs [Members of Mayoral Committee] for Safety and Security, the Provincial Disaster Risk Management Committees of both Dr Kenneth Kaunda and JB Marks was established and its first sitting was on Sunday, 20 [March] 2022.  All present at the JOC pledged their unwavering support for the control of this outbreak,” the department said in a statement on Tuesday.

An outbreak was also detected in the previous FMD-free zone at Collins Chabane Municipality in Vhembe, Limpopo, in March 2022.

According to the department, the infections were detected in two locations in the former FMD-free zone, involving cattle in communal grazing areas.

“One of the two new infected locations is in the Disease Management Area (DMA), which was declared in January 2019 and remains in place, while the other is north of it. Other locations in the area with clinical signs suggestive of FMD are under investigation.

“This outbreak is most likely due to spill-over from an outbreak in the adjacent FMD Protection zone, which was detected in March 2021. There are permanent movement restrictions in place in the protection zone, preventing the free movement of cloven-hoofed livestock into the FMD free zone,” the department said.

The affected diptanks were placed under quarantine and no cloven-hoofed animals were allowed to move from these locations.

“In an effort to curtail the spread of the disease, cattle were vaccinated to establish a band of resistant animals around the known positive diptanks.”

Based on surveillance activities conducted in the second half of 2021, the department said, it appeared at the time that the infection had ended.  However, it resurfaced in 2022 in the former FMD-free zone.

“Surveillance activities in the newly affected area are underway to determine the extent of the spread of the disease both within the DMA and to the north of the DMA. Vaccination in the area has started in an effort to curtail further spread of the disease,” the department said.

Vaccination campaign commences in KZN

The department reported that the FMD outbreak in KwaZulu-Natal is continuing and a vaccination campaign has commenced.

“Two new affected locations have been identified. One falls just outside of the DMA in  Mthonjaneni Municipality, while the other one falls some distance to the south-west of the DMA, in the uMlalazi Municipality, near the Nkandla and Maphumulo Municipalities.

“The newly infected diptanks have been placed under quarantine, and no cloven hoofed animals are allowed to move from these locations. Clinical and serological surveillance has been intensified in the diptanks surrounding the newly infected area to determine the extent of the spread,” the department said.

Restrictions in place

The department urged all farmers, including livestock owners, members of industry and other stakeholders to abide by the movement restrictions in place in both Limpopo and KZN DMAs, and the restrictions within the affected areas.

The department also urged all farmers, livestock owners, members of industry and other stakeholders in the rest of the country, to use caution when sourcing cattle.

“The notion of ‘know what you are buying’ holds true in this instance. Ensure that you know the health of the animals you are investing in, and where possible, seek a health attestation from the seller’s veterinarian.

“Should any suspicious clinical symptoms [including] salivation, blisters in the mouth, limping or hoof lesions be seen, it should be reported to the local State Veterinarian immediately and such animals must not be moved under any circumstances.” the department warned.