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SA has animal health under control

Written by Nthambeleni Gabara
South Africa is making good progress in maintaining its Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) free zone status, says Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana.

The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, together with the provincial governments of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal, have finalised talks on infrastructure, specifically fencing and dipping tanks.

FMD is one of the most contagious animal diseases and causes deaths mainly in young animals through inflammation of the heart muscle.

The infected and protection zones are only found in the demarcated areas of Limpopo, Mpumalanga and KwaZulu-Natal provinces.

Minister Zokwana said the Scientific Commission for Animal Diseases (SCAD) of the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) stated that South Africa has made commendable progress to comply with the relevant requirements for the maintenance of its FMD free status.

“The SCAD made additional recommendations with regard to the separate dipping days in the FMD protection zone and the high surveillance area of the free zone in KwaZulu-Natal, that the dipping of cattle from the protection zone must be [done] after the cattle from the free zone.

“They also took note of the actions taken at the relevant abattoirs that slaughter animals from the protection zone, but would need clarification on how the veterinary services will ensure compliance and provide training to abattoir staff,” he said.

Minister Zokwana said next year, the first batch of veterinarians will be deployed to help expand the footprint in dealing with animal health issues.

Fencing & dipping tanks

As part of safeguarding animal health, Minister Zokwana said repair and maintenance of fencing is taking place on the South African/ Zimbabwe border, where more than 40 kilometres of border fencing has been completed.

As a temporary measure, cattle from the protection zones and the high surveillance area of the free zone in KwaZulu-Natal are now dipped on separate days.

He said for a more permanent solution on the issue, KwaZulu-Natal has prioritised funding to build 10 further dip tanks.

The KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development also build the fences on the eastern boundary of Ndumo Game Reserve in an effort to prevent buffalo and cattle contact. The project is expected to be completed next month.

FMD vaccine

The Minister said a total of 300 000 doses of FMD vaccine were ordered from Botswana Vaccine Institute and distributed to Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces.

The vaccination of cattle was expected to be completed by the end of March 2015.

“A further 300 000 doses were also requested to be produced by Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (OVI) and the batch is expected to be delivered in April this year. Studies to assess the efficacy of the FMD vaccine are being carried out by OVI and a final report is expected soon,” he said.

Symptoms of FMD

Signs and symptoms and symptoms include: fever; nausea; vomiting; feeling tired; generalized discomfort; loss of appetite; and irritability in infants and toddlers.