SA bans animals, meat and wool from Lesotho after deadly anthrax outbreak

The department of agriculture has urged owners of livestock to report any sudden deaths of their animals following an anthrax outbreak in Lesotho.
The department of agriculture has urged owners of livestock to report any sudden deaths of their animals following an anthrax outbreak in Lesotho.
Image: ESA ALEXANDER

SA has imposed a ban on imports of live animals and related products, including wool, from Lesotho following an outbreak of anthrax. 

The Veterinary Authority of Lesotho reported three anthrax outbreaks to the World Organisation for Animal Health. The first outbreak started on May 12 and 24 cattle were reported to have died of the disease.

Anthrax infects humans and warm-blooded animals, and is caused by the bacterium Bacillus anthracis.

Animals become infected by eating or licking material that is contaminated with spores or from breathing in the spores. These spores are formed when the bacteria are exposed to oxygen when an animal that has died of anthrax is cut open. The spores are resistant and survive for long periods — up to decades — in the environment.

Humans most commonly contract anthrax through contact with infected animals or animal products, such as meat.   

The department of agriculture urged livestock owners to make sure their herds were vaccinated against anthrax every 12 months, with a registered vaccine.

Owners should also report any sudden deaths of livestock, with blood oozing from carcass openings, to the state veterinarian, private veterinarian or animal health technician, the department said. 

It added that people should not open up any carcasses of animals that have died suddenly. Consumers should only purchase livestock that looks healthy and are from a trustworthy source.

“Make sure that the meat you buy originates from an abattoir that is registered in terms of the Meat Safety Act … animals slaughtered at these abattoirs are inspected before and after slaughter, and only meat that is passed fit for human consumption is released from these registered abattoirs,” the department said.

It said it remained in touch with Lesotho authorities to ensure safe trade.


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