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Foot and mouth disease outbreaks: Minister Didiza says illegal movement of animals must stop

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Agriculture Minister Thoko Didiza has appealed for co-operation from livestock owners after the department said the current outbreaks were due to the illegal movement of animals out of the foot and mouth disease (FMD) controlled zones in Limpopo.

File Picture: Cattle seen on a farm in Georgedale in Mpumalanga. Picture: Neo Ntsoma African News Agency (ANA)

MINISTER of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza has appealed to the public to stop the illegal movement of animals as the country is currently battling 56 outbreak cases of foot and mouth disease (FMD) on farms and communal areas in KwaZulu-Natal, the Free State, Limpopo, North West and Gauteng.

Didiza said while the government was working hard to deal with the cases, it was equally important for all concerned role players to play their part in fighting the disease.

“It is important that everyone commits and respects all imposed control measures and collectively find a sustainable solution,” said the minister on Monday.

Government attributed the current outbreaks to the illegal movement of animals out of the FMD controlled zones in Limpopo.

“I call on all citizens of South Africa to stop the illegal movement of animals out of FMD affected areas. The damages caused by continued FMD outbreaks have a severe negative impact on the economy of the country, as well as the individual animal owners”, the minister continued.

According to Didiza, in KZN, a further two FMD positive dip tanks were found in the Big 5 Hlabisa Municipality and Jozini Municipality.

The minister added that while the disease initially seemed to be under control in the disease management area, last year, subsequent illegal movement of animals led to the disease escaping the disease management area.

In one case, the department pointed out, cattle were moved for a lobola ritual and a total of 43 dip tanks became infected in that area since the disease was first diagnosed in May 2021.

The minister said all affected farms, dip tanks and other premises in the five affected provinces were placed under quarantine and no cloven-hoofed animals were 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 minister emphasised.

She said FMD vaccination campaigns in Limpopo and KwaZulu-Natal were still ongoing in the areas where there was active virus circulation and where the animals were not fenced in to effectively prevent co-mingling.

The minister also reminded livestock owners that FMD was transmitted by moving cattle from infected premises.

“All farmers, livestock owners, members of industry and other stakeholders are again urged to use caution when buying cattle,” Didiza emphasised.

The minister appealed to members of the public to contact the state veterinary services or their private vets immediately if there was any suspicion of FMD or linkage to an FMD affected property.

THE MERCURY

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