The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development (DALRRD) is to embark on an animal vaccination campaign following the outbreak of Foot-and-Mouth Disease (FMD) in KwaHlabisa in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), identified as a new hotspot.
According to the Department, the outbreak is showing signs of active spread with some of the newly affected dip tanks close to the boundary of the Disease Management Area (DMA) and the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve.
“In January 2022, there was a sudden flare-up of the Foot-and-Mouth Disease outbreak in KZN which was first reported in May 2021. A new cluster of infected dip tanks was identified in Hlabisa, between the two clusters previously affected. This new cluster is still within the reduced DMA in KwaZulu-Natal. However, it remains in communal grazing land, where all epidemiologically linked dip tanks are at a high risk of infection,” read the statement.
Impact on the red meat industry
It is estimated that the recent FMD outbreak in South Africa could cost the red meat value chain as much as R10 billion. Johan van der Colff, chairperson of the Red Meat Producers’ Organisation in the Northern Cape, said in the 2011 FMD cost amounted to R6 billion but that the unofficial figures for the latest outbreak put the cost as high as R10 V der Colff said the impact of the outbreaks also affect the producers of wool, mohair and hide and even niche industries along the value chain.
The DALRRD said in its assessment that the situation calls for the use of vaccination to reduce the viral load and control further spread. According to a statement from the DALRRD the vaccination would, for the moment, be confined to cattle within the DMA, not only to delay the spread of the disease but also to prevent the spread outside the DMA and into the game reserve. In addition, the idea is not to vaccinate all animals inside the DMA but merely to contain the spread. A risk-based approach will be followed to ensure that the areas at highest risk are vaccinated first. .
The initial vaccination campaign, to commence this month, is aiming to vaccinate about 40 000 cattle. Communities affected by this decision will be engaged by the KZN Veterinary Services during the next few weeks, prior to vaccination. Market access support to these communities will be provided as and when appropriate. The DALRRD is also actively engaging with an experienced panel of agents to undertake certain identified functions. These functions would be aimed at supporting farmers within the DMA who had been affected by FMD control measures and movement controls during the past eight months.
Urging compliance with restrictions
The protocol and permit system for movement of cloven-hoofed animals remain in place in the reduced DMA. All stakeholders are urged to continue complying with the movement restrictions which are still in place. These restrictions, according to the DALRRD, were necessary to prevent the spread of the virus out of the affected areas and therefore, shorten the duration of the outbreak.
Movement of cloven-hoofed animals and their products into, out of, through, or within the reduced DMA is still only allowed provided there a permit was issued by veterinary services in the area. Movement protocol can be obtained from KZN Veterinary Services. In addition, visible patrols and roadblocks would remain in place in the reduced DMA to control movement of livestock and to monitor adherence to the established protocol.
Livestock owners are encouraged to submit all applications for movement to the Provincial Veterinary Movement Control Officers for evaluation and risk assessment. Applications and queries can be submitted to email@example.com.