full screen background image

Foot and mouth disease danger from Zimbabwe


“We work with the South African National Defence Force to apprehend anyone trying to smuggle game or meat into the country. Bringing in meat from Zimbabwe is prohibited anyway. We also do not allow the import of any animals from Zimbabwe.”
Lucas Mampane, Head of State Veterinarian Services in the province said Limpopo is vigilant and concentrating on surveillance to pick up any signs of foot and mouth disease (FMD). This follows an outbreak of foot and mouth disease earlier this year in southern Zimbabwe.
Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Spokesperson, Makenosi Maroo said a meeting between the directors of animal health/veterinary services of South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe was held in Harare at the end of August already, following the outbreak of FMD.
“Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious disease affecting cloven-hoofed animals. These include domestic livestock such as cattle, pigs, goats and sheep as well as cloven-hoofed game species such as buffalo,” he said.
“The aim of the meeting was to assess and discuss the current FMD situation in Zimbabwe. The chief veterinary officer of Zimbabwe assured the two counterparts that the situation is under control, albeit at great expense. The drought that Zimbabwe experienced resulted in a number of cattle moving southwards to designated relief grazing — when the disease had already been discovered. Zimbabwe, Botswana and South Africa are working together to contain this outbreak and prevent its spill over into South Africa and Botswana,” Maroo stated.
Dennis Bloem, spokesperson for the Congress of the People urged the national, provincial and municipal governments to take proactive steps to ward off the foot and mouth disease outbreak in southern Zimbabwe.
“It is common knowledge that foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious animal disease. It will have disastrous consequences for our agriculture, which is already battered by severe drought if the disease crosses over. Farmers will sustain crippling losses and Limpopo in particular will experience large-scale socio-economic consequences. South Africa could suffer millions if not billions of Rand of losses,” Bloem said.
“Government departments and agricultural organisations must work with farmers to engage in a programme of planning, preparing and protecting animals. Prevention is certainly better than any cure.”
He said the early involvement of the World Animal Health Organisation is an absolute necessity.
“The Minister must immediately inform the public whether South Africa is ready and has all bases fully covered. The police and the army must tighten border control. Veterinarians must be engaged right away and medicines must be stockpiled. Let South Africa not be caught on the wrong foot.” Bloem said.
South Africa regained its FMD-free zone status in February 2014, following an outbreak of FMD in 2011. A number of markets that meat was exported to, were lost, some of which have still not been opened yet.