While over half a million cattle have already been vaccinated against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) across South Africa, the fight against the disease has been dealt another blow with a recent outbreak being confirmed outside the Free State’s disease management area.
“This latest outbreak was brought to our attention following an unsuccessful attempt by a farmer near Hertzogville to participate in a livestock auction that took place in Christiana, North West,” chief state veterinarian, Dr Kristan Majopelo, said in a statement released by the Free State Department of Agriculture on Wednesday (21 September).
“The group of animals that the farmer took to this auction displayed typical FMD lesions. These animals were subsequently sent back to the farm of origin in the Free State, and [the farm near] Hertzogville has been placed under quarantine.”
Majopela said FMD surveillance tests would also be conducted on neighbouring farms within a 10km radius of the current outbreak.
Including this latest outbreak, official government statistics indicated that there were currently 147 active cases in previously FMD-free zones across the country.
Only six of the country’s 157 reported cases since June had been resolved and closed in accordance with the World Organisation for Animal Health’s (OIE) stipulations, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s latest ‘FMD Outbreak and Surveillance Update’ report said.
“We are continuing our vaccination campaigns in these affected provinces, and a total of [more than] 529 700 vaccinations have been recorded [by the national office] so far,” Dr Mpho Maja, the department’s director of animal health said in the report.
Maja said the affected provinces were Limpopo, North West, Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Free State and KwaZulu-Natal.
The movement of cattle across the country was temporarily banned on 18 August, and on 8 September, the ban was amended to include sheep and goats, with movement of livestock limited to the new disease management areas in KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Free State.
Gerhard Schutte, chairperson of the National Animal Health Forum (NAHF), said “the FMD situation across the country remained dire”.
However, he explained that he was positive that the authorities were making headway in combating the disease, despite the new cases.
“The NAHF has put together a technical committee consisting of 11 leading veterinarians to act as an advisory committee to [the department] on FMD,” Schutte told Farmer’s Weekly.
“Until now, FMD has been tackled from a disease perspective, but these veterinarians have the knowledge to advise government and the industry on the best way forward from a value chain perspective.”
Schutte added that the team had already met with officials from the department, and said these meetings would be ongoing until FMD was contained across the country.