FMD outbreak confirmed in North West

Another outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) has been confirmed in the Potchefstroom district in North West. This is in addition to an outbreak of the disease which was detected in the Vhembe district in Limpopo this month, while an outbreak continues in KwaZulu-Natal.

No movement of animals

Reggie Ngcobo, spokesperson of the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development has confirmed positive laboratory results and diagnosis of FMD on a commercial stud farm near Potchefstroom in North West. He says the affected farm as well as surrounding farms, which are situated outside the city in the direction of Ventersdorp, have been placed under quarantine.

No movement of animals to and from these farms in the area is allowed. Roadblocks were also set up as a precautionary measure to prevent the movement of animals in this affected area until the situation is under control. According to Ngcobo further surveillance is being conducted in the area to establish the extent of the outbreak. A joint operations commission, supported by the local mayoral committees for safety and security, the provincial disaster risk management committees and both Dr Kenneth Kaunda and JB Marks local municipalities, was established. The commission’s first sitting was on 20 March 2022.

Another FMD outbreak in Limpopo

Ngcobo says an outbreak was also detected in the previous FMD-free zone in the Collins Chabane municipality (Vhembe) in Limpopo this month. Infection was detected in two locations in this zone. It involves cattle in communal grazing areas. He says one of the two new infected locations is in the disease management area, which was declared in January 2019. It remains in place. The other area is situated north of this area. Other locations in the area with clinical signs suggestive of FMD are also under investigation.

Curtailing the spread of FMD

According to Ngcobo, this outbreak in Limpopo is most likely due to spill-over from an outbreak in the adjacent FMD protection zone, which was detected in March last year. Permanent movement restrictions in the protection zone are in place to prevent the free movement of cloven-hoofed livestock into the FMD free zone. The affected dip tanks were placed under quarantine and no cloven-hoofed animals were allowed to move from these locations.

In an effort to curtail the spread of the disease, cattle were vaccinated to establish a band of resistant animals around the known positive dip tanks. Surveillance activities conducted in the second half of last year showed that the infection had come to an end at the time. However, it resurfaced this year in the former FMD-free zone. He says surveillance activities in the newly affected area are underway to determine the extent of the spread both within the disease management area (DMA) and to the north of the DMA. Vaccination has also started in the area to prevent the further spread of the disease.

Continuing outbreak in KwaZulu-Natal

The FMD outbreak in KwaZulu-Natal continues and a vaccination campaign was launched. Meanwhile, two new affected locations have been identified in the province. According to Ngcobo, one location falls outside of the DMA in the Mthonjaneni municipality. The other location is situated some distance to the southwestern part of the DMA in the uMlalazi municipality near Nkandla and Maphumulo municipalities.

Ngcobo says the newly infected dip tanks have been placed under quarantine. No cloven-hoofed animals are allowed to move from these locations, while clinical and serological surveillance has been intensified in the dip tanks surrounding the newly infected area to determine the extent of the spread.

Movement restrictions

All affected parties and other stakeholders in the disease management areas in Limpopo and KZN are urged to abide by movement restrictions aimed to prevent the further spread of the virus. Other livestock owners, industry members and stakeholders in the rest of the country are urged to use caution when sourcing cattle as the disease is transmitted by moving cattle from infected premises. Livestock owners are urged not to move animals if there is a suspicion of illness. Buyers must also ensure they get an attestation from sellers to confirm the health status of the animals they are buying.

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