Foot and mouth disease outbreak in Limpopo


Cattle seen at Karen Beef Feedlot in Heidelberg, Gauteng, on 2 April 2013. Picture: Lenyaro Sello/eNCA.

JOHANNESBURG - An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was detected last week in cattle in Limpopo, the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said on Monday.

The strain of the disease was diagnosed by the Provincial Veterinary Services.

“The outbreak was confirmed by laboratory tests on 10 December 2015 and identified as a SAT 3 strain of FMD virus,” the department said.

The outbreak occurred in the Matiane community, in the Thulamela local municipality of the Vhembe District, which is within the FMD protection zone of South Africa, where vaccination for FMD is routinely conducted.”

The department further said the affected area is very close to the Greater Kruger National Park Complex, where FMD-infected buffaloes are a constant sources of infection.

It is also believed that the current drought  has increased possible contact between cattle and buffaloes due to limited grazing and water sources.

The province’s veterinary services has revealed the measures it will use to curb and eradicate the spread of foot-and-mouth in the area.

“The Limpopo Provincial Veterinary Services has intensified surveillance in the area and is applying control measures such as quarantine of affected cattle and movement control of cloven-hooved animals in the surrounding areas.

“Vaccination of (cattle in) the surrounding areas in response to the outbreak will be instituted."

The outbreak occurred within South Africa’s FMD protection zone, and therefore has no effect on South Africa’s FMD free zone status and should not have any effect on South Africa’s export activities.

The outbreak of the disease has been a talking point in the northern parts of South Africa in the last few days.

Last week there were rising fears that desperate Zimbabwean farmers could inadvertently spread the disease when they bring their cattle across the border into Limpopo to graze.

The Zimbabwean farmers are allegedly feeding their “starving livestock” in grassy areas on the shoulder of the Limpopo River.