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Foot and Mouth disease has had 'devastating impact' on trade, says Minister

Jan 14 2019 15:51
Alex Mitchley

While the recent outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in South Africa has had a devastating effect on trade, Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Senzeni Zokwana has quelled fears, saying that only a small amount of animals have been infected.

Zokwana allayed fears of the FMD outbreak following a meeting with farmers in Tshwane on Monday. 

Last week, the department confirmed the outbreak of Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle in the Vhembe District of Limpopo.

"The disease was confirmed by the FMD laboratory and the matter has been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on January 7," Zokwana said. 

"As a result of this development, the official OIE recognised FMD-free status of South Africa has been suspended. Consequently, any exports where FMD free zone attestation is required cannot be certified."

However, Zokwana said that affected areas have been demarcated and fenced and that task teams have been set up to deal with FMD will now let trade partners know that they can still import our meat products. 

A provincial ban on importing meat products from South Africa was announced by several countries following the outbreak as to minimise their risk of contracting the disease in their countries. 

"The impact this has had to trade in the past week has been devastating to say the least. I urge all affected industries to work with my team in minimising the impact," said Zokwana, adding that unnecessary panic and stress needed to be avoided. 

"We have notified most of our trade partners and have started offering them assurances, especially for trade in products which do not pose a risk of transmitting the disease, such as heat treated meat and dairy products, deboned and matured beef, scoured wool, salted hides and skins, and livestock embryos."

Zokwana added that infected livestock will be treated and vaccinated while a team of veterinary services experts is on the ground conducting further investigations to check the extent of the spread of the disease.  

"Vaccination in the 20km radius around the affected village will commence in the week starting on 14 January 2019."

The estimated number of cattle in the 20km around the affected village is 15 000. 

The minister added that this does not mean that all 15 000 animals are infected with the disease, but there is a risk that they may become infected through contact with sick cattle.  

"Culling of affected or in-contact animals in the area is at the moment not advocated due to a number of factors, and the situation is constantly monitored by my veterinary team."

Furthermore, a disease management area was declared, the exact boundaries of this area will be published in the government gazette.  

"No movement of cloven hoofed animals are allowed within, into or out of this area. Products from cloven hoofed animals may be allowed within and out of this area, but only with a permit issued by the local state veterinarian."

FACT SHEET:  

FMD is a severe, highly contagious viral disease which affects livestock with significant economic impact. 

The disease affects cattle, pigs (domestic and wild), sheep, goats, and other cloven hoofed animals. 

Signs of disease in animals may include sores in the mouth of animals causing reluctance to eat and lameness, among other things. Any suspected case of the disease in animals must be reported to the local State Veterinarian immediately. The disease does not affect human beings and it is safe to consume products of cloven hoofed animals, such as meat and milk.

FMD can be treated and vaccinated.

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