Cape Town - The department of agriculture, forestry and fisheries has denied that foot-and-mouth disease has broken out in northern KwaZulu-Natal because the government failed to maintain the boundary fence between South Africa, Swaziland and Mozambique.
Foot and mouth is a trans-boundary animal disease which cannot be contained by a fence, said department spokesperson Dr Botlhe Modisane.
The current outbreak of foot and mouth was probably caused by a less virulent virus than the traditional one responsible for the disease, she said.
The disease could consequently not be picked up and combated in time, and she said the KwaZulu-Natal department of agriculture should in fact be congratulated on identifying the problem.
The department has meanwhile announced the lifting of the ban on transporting cloven-hoofed animals or their products, except in certain districts in northern KwaZulu-Natal. The ban is still valid in the Umkhanyakude, uThungulu and Zululand districts.
Serological tests showed that animals on the western side of the N2 national highway tested negative for the disease. The department is busy with tests to determine how far south the disease has spread among animals.
The results of tests in various districts were to have been announced over the weekend.
The department also announced the application of a 25km-wide buffer zone between the N2 and the R66, aimed at preventing the disease from spreading in a westerly direction.
A similar buffer zone will be defined for the southern part as soon as the test results have been received.
Modisane said various roadblocks have been erected in the area to control the movement of animals and animal products.
The envisaged vaccination of animals would start only after the southern zone had been defined, and animals that had been vaccinated would be branded.
Modisane has requested cooperation from the public, and for animals or animal products not to be removed from areas where the disease has occurred.
Everyone’s cooperation is necessary to prevent the disease spreading to the rest of the country.
For business news in Afrikaans, go to Sake24.com