Moving or transporting all cloven-hoofed animals, including livestock and game, has been banned in several districts within Northern KwaZulu-Natal—an attempt by the government to stop an outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) spreading. This follows a statement issued by the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD), whereby the Department’s Minister, Thoko Didiza, announced a Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak in cattle in Mtubatuba UMkhanyakude District Municipality, KwaZulu-Natal.
The Department collected samples on 26 May 2021, during routine disease surveillance, after local veterinary officials noticed cattle showing suspicious lesions at one communal location. “The diagnosis was confirmed by the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Laboratory on 27 May 2021. Viral typing is ongoing to determine the identity of virus involved in this outbreak,” said the Department.
A team of officials from the DALRRD are conducting further investigations to determine the extent of the outbreak. The findings of this investigation will determine the control measures thereafter. Therefore, in an effort to prevent further spread, while the extent of the outbreak is being determined, an immediate temporary standstill of all cloven-hoofed animals, including livestock and game, has been imposed in the District Municipalities of King Cetshwayo and Umkhanyakude, as well as the Local Municipalities of Nongoma, Ulundi and Pongola in the Zululand District Municipality.
The Department further emphasised, “No movement of live cloven-hoofed animals is allowed into and out of or through these districts. The area under standstill will be reviewed within two weeks, based on further disease investigations.”
Moreover, Minister Didiza has established a FMD Task Team to prioritise all matters related to this outbreak. In addition, a Veterinary Operational Committee is dealing with the outbreak at a provincial level. Farmers in the temporary standstill area are requested to abide by the movement stop until disease investigations allow for the control measures to be refined. Farmers in the northern region of KZN, outside the temporary standstill area, are cautioned to observe bio-security measures – not to allow any new animals into their herds and minimise their own herds’ movement to other farms.
The Department stresses, “Any suspected case of FMD in susceptible animals must be reported to the local State Veterinarian immediately. FMD affects cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed animals (domestic and wild).” The major clinical features of the disease include fever, lameness, and the appearance of vesicles and sores in the mouth, feet, teats and mammary glands. Pain and discomfort from these vesicles and sores lead to other signs of disease such as depression, excessive salivation, lameness, and reluctance to eat, move or stand. FMD is a severe, highly contagious viral disease which affects livestock with significant economic impact. However, the disease does not affect human beings; hence consumers have no reason for concern.
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