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South African Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has confirmed the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in cattle in the Vhembe District of Limpopo

Limpopo 255All cases are followed up by the veterinary officials to check for signs of the disease. (Image source: generalising/Flickr)

Samples were collected during a disease investigation after reports of cattle with lameness were received. The positive location is outside the FMD Control Zone in the Free Zone without vaccination.

The disease was confirmed by the FMD laboratory and the matter has been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE). 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.

A team of veterinary services experts is on the ground conducting further investigations to check the extent of the spread of the disease. Local livestock owners are urged to report any suspicion of clinical cases to the veterinary or extension officials in the area. All such cases are followed up by the veterinary officials to check for signs of the disease.

A Joint Operations Committee, consisting of SAPS, SANDF, Local Authorities, Provincial and National Veterinary officials, as well as a Veterinary Operations Committee, has been established. The VOC will have three main activities such as inspections and surveillance, vaccination and movement control.

DAFF said that the disease does not affect human beings and it is safe to consume products of cloven-hoofed animals such as meat and milk.

“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 - complete standstill. 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,” announced the department.