The detection of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Limpopo is devastating news for SA's agricultural economy as livestock and meat exports will be halted, Minister of Economic Opportunities in the Western Cape Beverley Schäfer said in a statement on Wednesday.
The National Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced on Tuesday that FMD has been detected in the Vhembe district of Limpopo and reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health.
Consequently, South Africa's designation as FMD free has been suspended, and any exports of cloven-hoofed animals or products, where FMD free zone attestation is required, will be impacted.
"Foot and mouth disease is highly contagious and while it poses no public health or food safety threats, its detection can have a severe economic impact as farmers will not be able to export livestock or meat products - including beef, pork, lamb and game," explained Schäfer.
She pointed out that, while no incidents of the disease have been detected in the Western Cape, the province accounts for more than half of South Africa's total agricultural exports.
The national department is currently conducting further investigations in Limpopo and the area has been quarantined.
"The Western Cape Department of Agriculture will be monitoring the situation closely and we request all farmers to be on high alert, and to ensure that all their bio-security measures are in place in order to ensure that the disease does not spread further," said Schäfer.
Bloomberg reported on Tuesday the National Department of Agriculture as saying that samples were collected during a disease investigation after reports of cattle with lameness were received. The location is just outside the foot-and-mouth disease control zone, the department said.
The department and the Limpopo Veterinary Services are conducting further investigations to verify the results and determine the extent of the outbreak and control measures will be determined by the findings.