Ban on cloven-hoofed animals eased

2011-03-11 17:51

Johannesburg - A ban on the movement of all cloven-hoofed animals and their products in most parts of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) was lifted on Friday following recent fears of a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in the region, the Veterinary Operation Centre said.

Areas that remained banned included Umkhanyakude, uThungulu and Zululand districts, said spokeswoman Dr Botlhe Modisane.

The lift comes after serological samples collected during clinical surveillance tested negative in most areas west of the N2.

Results from Vryheid, Ladysmith, Port Shepstone, Howick, Ixopo and Durban have also come back negative.

"While the ban has been lifted, the farming community and the general public, still have to exercise caution and notify their nearest veterinary centres about their intention to move cloven hoofed animals and their products, Modisane said.

The shutdown of animal movement in uThungulu stems from positive samples retrieved in the north of the Umfolozi River.

Modisane said surveillance has been moved to the south of Umfolozi to establish the furthest point of infection.

The areas of concern were currently the south and south western areas such as Mbonambi, Ntambanana, Nkandla, eShowe, Kranskop and Melmoth. Their results are due to be confirmed this weekend.

Officials in Mkhanyakude were also awaiting results regarding the status in the Zululand areas of Ulundi and Nongoma.

The disease was first detected in Umkhanyakude late last month.

Modisane said the area between the west of the N2 and the east of R66, the outermost west boundary, has been declared a buffer zone.

She said the control of the disease was mainly focused on clinical surveillance aimed at determining the furthest point of the spread of the disease before any further actions could be implemented.

"The farmers and the general public in the affected areas are requested not to move animals and animal products at this stage and to report any suspicion of animal disease to the veterinary authorities without delay."

"Everyone's cooperation is required to prevent possible spread into the rest of the country," Modisane said.

She said vaccination will begin once the south and south west boundaries have been defined and vaccinated animals will be branded.

Only limited movement of animals and certain processed animal products within the delineated area will be allowed.

In response to claims that the infection originated from neighbouring countries as a result of the collapsed red line fence, Modisane said foot and mouth disease was a trans-boundary animal disease and its occurrence could not be limited by the existence of a fence, but was dependent on the prevailing environmental factors.

"The current outbreak of FMD in KZN is presumably caused by a less virulent virus hence no clinical signs consistent with previous outbreaks of typical FMD in the country have been observed."

"The disease could not, therefore, be detected timely on clinical signs and this has resulted in the spread of the disease," Modisane said.