Animal health experts warn the bacterial disease is transmittable to humans and can cause infertility, reduced milk production, miscarriage or birth, complications and weak joints.
Sithole-Moloi confirms that the sinister outbreak is the biggest in the last three years. There have been 635 positive cases in the province since 2018 of which 423 were recorded this year.
“This year’s high number of the infectious spread of brucellosis threatens to trigger great reproductive health, nutrition and economic failures for the majority of rural animal holders and consumers of raw meat or fresh milk from infected dairy cows, goats and sheep, province-wide,” said Bongi Sithole-Moloi.
Communal dip tanks
Most commonly, people are infected by eating raw or unpasteurised dairy products. Sometimes, the bacteria that cause brucellosis can spread through the air or through direct contact with infected animals.
Around 70% of the cases are from the communal dip tanks in the north of the province where there is generally poor compliance with brucellosis vaccination and testing.
Sithole-Moloi added, “The increase in the north is attributed to few private veterinarians, lack of resources to contain the disease, lack of compliance from livestock owners as well as proximity to countries like Mozambique and Swaziland, which have porous border security.”
To quell the spread the department will be introducing a vaccination drive for calves aged between four and eight months in all dip tanks found in uMkhanyakude, King Cetshwayo, uThukela and uMzinyathi districts. This will be conducted in the line with priorities related to food security, economic growth and rural development.