Date: 22 March 2019 By:
No new cases of foot-and-mouth (FMD) disease have been reported since the last positive location was reported on 4 February. This is according to a joint statement issued by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) and the livestock industry.
The DAFF first confirmed the presence of FMD in Limpopo’s Vhembe District on 7 January this year. As a result, South Africa lost its World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recognised foot-and-mouth-disease-free zone without vaccination status.
“Since the last positive location was reported on 4 February 2019, five weeks ago, there had been no new clinical cases of foot and mouth disease or serologically positive test results in the epidemiological groups surveyed. Roughly 13 500 cattle distributed across 27 dip tanks have been vaccinated and identified as vaccinated in the former foot-and-mouth-disease-free area since 14 January 2019,” reads the statement issued on 14 March.
According to the DAFF, valuable information was obtained from more than 400 local livestock owners across 16 rural villages interviewed during February and they are busy assessing the information to strategize a way forward to help South Africa regain its FMD- free zone status. “The next steps have to be considered, carefully taking into account timelines and available resources. The department appreciates the technical advice from world-renowned experts and the practical guidance from the private sector that informs their plan of action,” reads the statement.
According to the DAFF, the continuation of trade in safe commodities has been prioritised. “The department successfully negotiated the revision of veterinary health certificates for beef to Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Lesotho, Mozambique, Qatar, Swaziland and the United Arab Emirates. Trade in pork from foot-and-mouth-disease-free pig compartments has been re-opened to Lesotho, Mozambique, Namibia (partially), Seychelles and Swaziland. Negotiations with Namibia (for beef) and Botswana (for pork) are still underway. The markets for dairy products have largely been restored. Some markets for the export of hides, skins and wool are still affected and robust negotiations are underway, particularly for products that have been processed to ensure the destruction of the foot-and-mouth virus,” said the DAFF. As for the China market, the DAFF said that Minister Senzeni Zokwana had met with the Chinese Ambassador to discuss the continuation of trade and acceptance of South Africa’s safe commodities. Regarding this, stricter proceedings to ensure the necessary assurance for future trading have been affirmed.
In conclusion, the DAFF had high praise for all involved in combatting the FMD outbreak. “As true South Africans, encouraged by President Ramaphosa’s campaign of ‘Thuma mina’, the veterinary teams from both state and private entities, organised industry and law-enforcement officers heeded the call and rolled up their sleeves to ensure the smooth running and a successful outcome of the disease-control campaign. For this, the department extends its heartfelt appreciation and gratitude,” reads the statement.