Disease in wild animals

2011-03-02 00:00


EZEMVELO KZN Wildlife yesterday reported foot- and-mouth disease among wild animals.

This follows the discovery of the disease on farms in the northern parts of the province.

Agriculture Minister Tina Joemat-Petterson has suspended red meat exports and informed the World Health Organisation.

Ezemvelo chief executive officer Dr Bandile Mkhize said animals such as buffaloes and other cloven-hooved animals, which were found in the Mkuze area, were tested last week and many were discovered to be carrying the disease.

Mkhize said they have decided to halt the movement of animals to combat the spread of the disease and those animals found to be carrying the disease will be quarantined to ensure they do not spread it.

He said it could take up to two months to get the disease under control.

Sapa yesterday quoted the KwaZulu-Natal Agriculture Department as saying it regrets that it allowed the foot-and-mouth disease fence that used to protect local cattle for decades to fall into disrepair.

Head of department Sizwe Mkhize said, “It should not have happened. We will make sure it is erected as soon as possible.”

Mkhize said the department is intensifying surveillance in the north of the White Umfolozi River to determine the spread of the infection and collecting samples from various parts of uMkhanyakude District to assess if there were any new cases.

A state veterinary surgeon in northern KwaZulu-Natal, who is dealing with the disease, warned against classifying it as an outbreak.

“At this stage there is a suspicion of the disease, but there have not been any clinical cases that have been reported,” said the vet, who did not want to be named.

Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO) manager Gerhard Schutte said South Africa is a net importer of meat and that less than one percent of the country’s meat is exported.

The RPO said that when the reach of the disease has been established it would negotiate with the department to declare the rest of the country foot-and-mouth free areas.

Political parties also weighed in on the possible outbreak. The IFP said it had long questioned the provincial agriculture department’s failure to spend the R25 million allocated for the reconstruction of the protective fence.


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