After more than six months Limpopo farmers affected by the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak can finally breathe a sigh of relief. The department of agriculture, land reform and rural development has lifted quarantine restrictions in nine out of 19 previously identified sites with reported cases.
FMD, a viral disease affecting cloven-hoofed livestock, gripped the province in January and November 2019.
Farmers are, however, advised to remain vigilant, as the province is not out of the danger zone yet. The department’s veterinary services are continuously monitoring the prevalence of FMD and working closely with affected farmers to resolve the remaining 10 farms.
Departmental spokesperson Reggie Ngcobo says livestock farmers and traders have been advised to take “buyer beware” precautions and maintain basic biosecurity measures on their farms. “These measures will prevent outbreaks of other contagious disease in animals including brucellosis in cattle and African swine fever in pig,” Ngcobo says.
The situation looks promising, Ngcobo adds. “More than six months have passed since the last clinical cases which is a very encouraging sign that the outbreak was successfully controlled.”
FMD is not contagious to humans and the meat from recovered animals is safe for human consumption. “The process is continuing and more than 11 000 animals from farms under quarantine have been safely processes.”
Signs of disease in animals may include depressed animals, sores in the mouth of animals causing reluctance to eat and lameness. The disease does not affect human beings and it is safe to consume products of cloven-hoofed animals, such as meat and milk.
Meanwhile the department has given the thumbs up to cattle farmers in South Africa as the import conditions for the export of cattle have been revised and a health certificate has been agreed upon.
Ngcobo clarifies that FMD specific conditions include the isolation of animals for at least 30 days while preparing for export under supervision of the veterinary authority and testing for FMD at this time.
These conditions have been provided to the provincial veterinary service and potential exporters. “Most trader have retained the negotiated agreements for safe commodities. Updated information has been supplied to the veterinary authorities to provide assurances on the continued safe trade of commodities.”
Farmers are further advised to:
- strictly buy animals from known and proven sources;
- insist on a veterinary health declaration before animals are brough to your farms; and
- always place new arrivals in isolation until you are satisfied with their health conditions.
Farmers are cautioned to refrain from the following:
- do not move animals that show signs of disease,;
- do not buy from unknown origin;
- do not buy animals originating from known affected areas; and
- allow visitors and buyers to have contact with your animals without proper disinfection of their hands, shoes and anything that could transmit the virus.
The outbreak took a strong hold of the province in November last year. “Once all animals on affected properties have been slaughtered the quarantine can be lifted and operations may resume.”
Ngcobo adds that the department will further embark on a general surveillance strategy in areas affected by the January and November 2019 outbreaks. “Going forward, the outcome of this survey will determine the process of regaining international FMD free zone status.”