Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Thoko Didiza, says maximum cooperation from all stakeholders in the sector is necessary to control the outbreaks of foot and mouth disease (FMD).
"It is important that everyone commits and respects all imposed control measures and collectively find a sustainable solution," Didiza said.
In a statement issued on Monday, Didiza said the country is currently battling 56 outbreak cases of FMD, involving farms and communal areas in the Free State, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and Gauteng.
She called on all South African citizens to stop the illegal movement of animals out of FMD affected areas, noting that the outbreaks currently troubling South Africa are caused by illegal movements of animals out of the FMD controlled zones in Limpopo.
"Despite the fact that South Africa lost its OIE [World Organisation for Animal Health] recognised FMD-free zone status in 2019, the permanent movement restrictions remain in place in the FMD protection zones in Limpopo and Mpumalanga, and it is illegal to move cloven-hoofed animals and their products out of the FMD protection zone without permission from the state veterinary services," Didiza said.
Man arrested for bringing goats into FMD-free zone
Didiza commended the arrest of a 49-year old man in Masisi, Limpopo, for bringing goats from the FMD controlled zone into the free zone.
“Another case, where animals were illegally moved from an FMD controlled area to auctions in two provinces, is being investigated. We warn perpetrators who are illegally moving animals that they will be prosecuted for contravention of the Animal Diseases Act, 1984 (Act No. 35 of 1984),” Didiza said.
The Minister said in all affected farms, dip tanks and other premises in the five affected provinces are placed under quarantine and no cloven-hoofed animals are allowed to move from these locations.
“There has been no change in the movement restrictions on cloven-hoofed animals, their products and genetic material out of, into, within or through the disease management areas, which are still in effect in KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo.
"The margins of the two disease management areas are being considered to include the newly affected areas and other areas at high risk owing to uncontrolled mingling of animals. Culling, like all control measures, will be considered on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the practicality, costs, advantages and disadvantages of each scenario," Didiza said.
FMD vaccines sale illegal
FMD vaccination campaigns in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal are still ongoing in the areas where there is active virus circulation and where the animals are not fenced in to effectively prevent co-mingling.
However, the Minister reiterated that the use of the FMD vaccine is strictly controlled by state veterinary services and the vaccine is not available for sale to the public.
"The FMD vaccine can only be used in pre-authorised areas after the risks have been weighed. The department has become aware of companies advertising the sale of FMD vaccines and wishes to make it clear that the sale or use of such vaccines is illegal."
Safeguard your herds’ health status
Livestock owners are reminded to protect their herd from becoming infected by following the “buyer beware” precautions.
Principles to safeguard herds’ health status:
• Abide by all veterinary movement restrictions.
• Know the health status of the animals you are investing in.
• Only buy animals that originate from known and proven sources.
• Insist on a veterinary health declaration before bringing animals onto the farm.
• If in doubt, request a health attestation from the seller’s veterinarian.
• Keep the new arrivals to your farm separate from your own animals for at least 28 days, and until you are satisfied that they are healthy.
• Do not move animals showing signs of disease.
• Do not buy animals from unknown origins.
• Do not buy animals originating from known infected areas.
• Improve biosecurity on your farm to protect your animals from diseases coming onto the farm and avoid nose-to-nose contact with the neighbour’s cattle.
• Avoid buying animals from live auctions where animals have gathered from many different origins, especially if not intended for immediate slaughter.