Foot-and-mouth outbreak sends livestock exports into a tailspin

Livestock exports have been suspended following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Limpopo.
Livestock exports have been suspended following an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Limpopo.
Image: Stock image

A highly contagious viral disease that affects livestock has been detected in South Africa.

The department of agriculture‚ forestry and fisheries (Daff) said on Tuesday that laboratory results for foot-and-mouth disease in cattle had come back positive in the Vhembe district of Limpopo.

Samples were collected during a disease investigation after reports of cattle with lameness were received.

"The positive location is just outside the foot-and-mouth disease control zone‚ in the free zone without vaccination‚" said the department in a statement.

"A team of experts from the department and the Limpopo veterinary services is on the ground conducting further investigations to verify the results and determine the extent of the outbreak.

"The control measures will be determined by the findings of this investigation."

The outbreak has been reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE).

"As a result of this development‚ the official OIE recognised foot-and-mouth disease-free status of South Africa is temporarily suspended. Consequently‚ any exports where foot-and-mouth disease-free zone attestation is required cannot be certified."

The disease affects cattle‚ pigs (domestic and wild)‚ sheep‚ goats‚ and other cloven-hoofed animals. It does not affect human beings.

"Signs of disease may include depressed animals [and] sores in the mouth of animals‚ causing reluctance to eat and lameness‚" said the department.

"Any suspected case of the disease in animals must be reported to the local state veterinarian immediately."

The affected area is under quarantine and no movement of animals or animal products is allowed.

Farmers further away from the outbreak are cautioned to observe bio-security measures: to not allow any new animals into their herds and to minimise the movement of their herds to other farms.

- TMG Digital.

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