Fin24

Govt: Don't panic over SA meat

2011-02-28 22:39

Cape Town -  There was no need for panic about the suspected outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said on Monday.

The disease has occurred in northern KwaZulu-Natal, where the department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries has picked up some suspect positive serological results for foot-and-mouth, Joemat-Pettersson told a press conference at Parliament.

"Over 600 animals have been tested and 50% of them were found to be positive," she said.

The matter was reported to the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Friday.

South Africa had also temporarily suspended the official OIE recognised foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) free status of South Africa.

She said all exports of cloven-hoofed animals from South Africa had been suspended.

No need for culling

"We have suspended all exports of cloven-hoofed animals, inter alia cattle, goats, sheep and their products with immediate effect, except for products that have been fully processed to inactivate the FMD virus."

Departmental veterinarian Dr Bothle Modisane said animals around dipping tanks were being tested. The animals affected were rural cattle.

"Our worry is that they may go southwards to commercial cattle areas," he said.

Joemat-Pettersson said that R300m worth of hides and skins could be affected.

"We will treat the hides and skins effectively, according to recommendations of OIE.

"Because we have detected the situation early we may be able to rescue the exports of these hides and skins," she said.

Joemat-Pettersson said the department was able to contain the herd and that there was no immediate need for culling and there was no outbreak in any other area.

She said the department had been handling the situation since mid-February and that it was confident it had been able to contain the impact of the disease.

She said all animals in the northern KwaZulu-Natal area would be vaccinated and controlled.

"Once you have vaccinated, you have to treat the products. We will then only export de-boned meat, matured meat and meat which has been frozen."

Joemat-Pettersson said the department would also declare areas in other parts of the country which were free of vaccinations so that meat from those areas could be exported.

She said exports to the EU would affect 500 tons a year to the value of R30 million.

Wool exports to China, which had already been affected by Rift Valley Fever, were also a concern.

"We were supposed to host a Chinese delegation next week. We will still decide on that," she said.

Joemat-Pettersson said a team of departmental experts was investigating the matter and the department would be able to reverse the situation within three months.

"We are managing the situation very well. I have asked that all precautionary measures be taken and put in place. I am receiving reports from experts on a regular basis. We are taking reports in the morning, the afternoon and in the evening."

"Even though no clinical symptoms for the disease have been seen to date, the department is continuing to conduct intensive investigations. The control measures will be determined by the findings of this investigation."

Modisane said the department would investigate the possibility that buffalo from the Kruger National Park had escaped into another country, like Mozambique and then moved southwards.

"But we haven't verified this. We are still not sure."

He said the department had declared certain zones "vaccinating zones" to prevent the disease. The Kruger National Park and adjacent areas were part of the zones as buffaloes were carriers of the disease.

"Once infected, buffaloes become permanent carriers of the disease... so all animals will be at risk."

Modisane said South Africa had also declared all neighbouring countries like Namibia, Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Mozambique protection zones.

"So we will go there and conduct routine inspections to check that it's [FMD] not seeping into our country. It was during this routine inspection that samples were taken and we picked up reactors," he said.

He said investigations were continuing and that the department would soon receive reports.

Cattle not compromised

He said that the disease was still seen as a "suspected" disease as there were no clear clinical signs to indicate otherwise.

"We have to see the animals limping, the wounds... we haven't seen that yet."

Joemat-Pettersson said the department had acted timeously and that there was no need for panic.

She was convinced that the department had contained the disease.

"We are in control of the situation."

She said that the meat being eaten in South Africa was safe and that all unsafe meat would be destroyed.

"We are convinced that commercial cattle are not compromised at this stage."

She also reassured the farmers in northern KwaZulu-Natal that their livestock was in no immediate danger.

She cautioned farmers to observe bio-security measures by not allowing any new animals into their herds and minimising the movement of their herds.

 

Comments
  • JJ - 2011-03-01 06:11

    PLEEAASSEE!!, Do not ever begin a article that says "The Govt say's to Not Panic, or the other favourite, "Their is no Crisis". Then all it tells us is, Please start panicking, and Yes there is indeed a crisis. Any twat that still believe in what our esteemed "Govt" tell's us has just woken from the 20 year Coma he's been in.

  • Jakes - 2011-03-01 06:11

    Maybe our rural farmers are not educated to look for diseases like this? Or do not understand the impact of their negligence? Or maybe the gov should test more often? Prevention better than cure, something very few people understands.

  • sceptic - 2011-03-01 07:37

    "Over 600 animals have been tested and 50% of them were found to be positive"..........He said that the disease was still seen as a "suspected" disease as there were no clear clinical signs to indicate otherwise.We have to see the animals limping, the wounds... we haven't seen that yet."???????????? How can this be a suspected case either the tests are coming up positive in which case a confirmation test would need to be done to make sure the first test was correct or it came up negative?? It's like saying that we picked up suspected salmonella in food samples but it is only suspected because nobody died from it yet???

  • Nick - 2011-03-01 08:36

    funny that there was an outbreak of FMD in Mozambique two weeks ago. Border controls slipping up I think. Incompetence is creeping southward at an ever increasing rate.

  • Johnathan - 2011-03-01 08:55

    And why can a buffalo "escape" to Mozambique? Because they took all the fences down to merge the Kruger with the Zimbabwean and Mozambican parks. Also why poachers much more easily get into SA parks to poach our animals.

  • Steven - 2011-03-01 11:13

    I'm with JJ on this one. When our Govt. says "dont panic", its already too late....

  • Gary - 2011-03-01 14:33

    Ah no prob just go to woolis !! LOL

  • MH - 2011-03-01 14:47

    I am so glad I am vegeterian...All the diseases animals are getting lately is just scary!

  • Patricia - 2011-03-01 16:32

    Shame JJ how you so wish we can go back to 20years ago. The person who is still in coma is you. wAKE UP AND SMELL THE ROSE THIS IS 2011 NOT 1991

  • Thembi - 2011-03-01 22:07

    "We are managing the situation very well. I have asked that all precautionary measures be taken and put in place. I am receiving reports from experts on a regular basis. We are taking reports in the morning, the afternoon and in the evening." Yeah right - IF you were managing the situation very well, this would NEVER have occurred. Is this woman an IDIOT or does she think we are the IDIOTS to believe her. The fences between Mozambique and SA have been down for years, the IFP have requested that the R25 MILLION set aside to repair/replace these broken fences be USED FOR THE PURPOSE IT WAS SET ASIDE, yet YEARS later.... NOTHING - or rather FOOT AND MOUTH. The situation need never have arisen is people like this woman had done her job - for which she is being well paid - properly. A stitch in time, saves nine, or rather a repaired fence will not only make for good neighbours but also for FOOT AND MOUTH FREE cattle. It is the rural population that suffers most between F&M infecting their herds and illegal immigrants crossing our porous border and taking their jobs.

  • Machomike - 2011-03-01 23:57

    Eish, is "foot and mouth" not an ANC disease? Hau, every time the ANC open their mouth, they seem to put their foot into it.

  • Totman - 2011-03-02 00:14

    @ Thembi. I know that all the big mouths that are always read and comment are now asleep and just thought of telling you one is still awake, reading your comment[on my way to bed] and I think you are spot-on. Well said. Have a nice night.

  • JJ - 2011-03-02 07:07

    Uuuhhh Patricia, Would you please be so kind as to explain how you came to your frightfull "Logic" conclusion. A wee bit sensitive regarding your utterly FAILED, Miserable Excuse for a "Govt" methinks????.

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