Foot and mouth outbreak

2011-03-01 00:00

ROBIN Barnsley, president of the KwaZulu-Natal Agricultural Union (KwaNalu), yesterday urged consumers not to panic over the recent outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease as it is not harmful to human beings.

Sapa yesterday quoted agriculture minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson telling Parliament that the disease has been detected in the northern parts of KwaZulu-Natal.

She said. “The department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries has picked up some suspect positive serological results for foot-and-mouth disease. Over 600 animals have been tested and 50% of them were found to be positive.”

She said the matter was reported to the World Health Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) on Friday and that South Africa has temporarily suspended the foot-and-mouth disease-free status recognised officially by the OIE.

Joemat-Pettersson said all exports of cloven-hoofed animals have been suspended, including cattle, goats, sheep and their products, with immediate effect, except for products that have been fully processed to inactivate the foot-and-mouth virus.

The outbreak could affect R300 million worth of hides and skins and it is feared it might spread southwards and affect the commercial cattle areas. The animals affected are rural cattle.

Joemat-Pettersson said the department is able to contain the herd and that there is no immediate need for culling and there is no outbreak in any other area.

She said a team of departmental experts is investigating the matter and the department will be able to reverse the situation within three months.

The discovery took KwaNalu by surprise.

“Normally in this type of disease the animals develop sores around and inside their mouths, so it is visible, but this discovery did not come through in that manner and was made through testing,” said Barnsley.

He said the only way to deal with the disease is by culling the infected animals.

Barnsley said the private sector is ready to assist the government. “We are, however, concerned that proper protocol such as cordoning off the infected area was not followed as the disease is very contagious.”

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