Date: 17 January 2020 By:
The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced on Tuesday that four further cases of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) had been reported since mid-December 2019, with three cases reported in December and one case reported in the first week of January 2020. The total number of confirmed positive locations since the start of the outbreak has risen to 15.
“More than 130 points were identified with possible links to specific auctions and known affected properties. Follow-up investigations and collection of samples were already performed on 95 of these points, and the precautionary quarantine has been lifted on 44 properties that have been proven negative for FMD,” said the department in a press release.
According to the department, all properties where the disease has been confirmed have been placed under quarantine and cloven-hoofed animals are not allowed to move off the quarantined properties. “Guidelines and application procedures have been finalized for animals on FMD-quarantined properties to undergo early slaughter at designated abattoirs with specific conditions to prevent the spread of FMD. FMD does not affect people, therefore meat and milk from infected livestock are safe for human consumption,” said the department.
The department, together with the provincial veterinary services, started conducting awareness on FMD clinical signs and biosecurity measures in Limpopo Province during the week of 4 December. Awareness has already been conducted in six villages in the Molemole (Dendron) area and 315 farmers attended these sessions.
“The use of FMD vaccine has not been indicated in controlling the current outbreak. The vaccination of cattle against FMD is conducted only by state veterinary officials in specific areas determined by the Director Animal Health, free of charge. FMD vaccine is a controlled product that may only be handled by Veterinary Services. The general public is urged to immediately notify state veterinary officials should there be a suspicion of someone having or claiming to have or selling FMD vaccine,” said the department.
The prohibition on the gathering of cloven-hoofed animals from two or more properties, for distribution to two or more properties, was published in the Government Gazette on 4 December 2019 and is applicable to the whole country. This occurred after the veterinary authorities identified that the short-term congregation and redistribution of cloven-hoofed animals played an integral part in the spread of the disease in this outbreak as all the affected properties have been linked directly or indirectly to auctions. This notice does not prohibit the movement of livestock from farm to farm, or private auctions at individual farms. The gazetted notice is available on the DAFF website https://www.daff.gov.za/daffweb3/Home/Foot-and-mouth.
In order to bring normality to the trading of livestock, the department and the FMD Technical Task Team urge all auctioneers to register with the Agricultural Produce Agents Council (APAC). This is a legal requirement and auctioneers must comply with the conditions laid down in the Agricultural Produce Agents Act, 1992 (Act 12 of 1992). Additional biosecurity measures to be applied by registered auctioneers are under discussion and will be communicated as soon as these are finalised.
The department encouraged livestock owners to limit the movement of cloven-hoofed animals until the extent of the outbreak has been fully determined. “If movements are necessary, the buyers are advised to request health declarations before any animals are bought from sellers, to prevent the possible infection of new properties by positive animals being brought in. Private vets are asked to assist their clients by providing health declarations that indicate that the herd of origin has been inspected and found to be free of clinical signs of FMD and that all animals have been on the farm for at least 28 days before inspection. This will provide additional guarantees that FMD-infected animals could not have been introduced onto the farm in that period,” said the department.
The department also asked livestock owners to remain vigilant for clinical signs of FMD in their animals. “Any suspected cases of FMD should please be reported to the nearest State Veterinary Office or the nearest veterinarian for further investigation. Owners who have bought from known infected properties are also encouraged to report this to the Provincial Veterinary Authorities for speedy follow-up investigations,” said the department.