Farmers on alert after foot and mouth disease outbreak

The North West Department of Agriculture and Rural Development has set up a Joint Operations Centre (JOC) following the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in North West.

Farmers are urged to watch out for symptoms

Five farms have been placed under quarantine and forward traced farms on precautionary quarantine following the outbreak. The farms are located in Potchefstroom but cattle from these farms were recently sold at an auction to buyers elsewhere in North West, Gauteng and the Free State.

“The department would like to call on animal farmers not to panic. The Veterinary Services team is hard at work to ensure that all precautionary measures are undertaken to prevent the further spread of the disease. The Department also urges farmers against vaccinating animals for Foot and Mouth Disease, as vaccines without authorization can result in vaccinated animals testing positive and being classified as infected resulting in further measures being imposed on the farm,” said spokesperson, Emelda Setlhako.

In the North West Province, vaccination of cattle and pigs against FMD is not permitted and is therefore illegal. The sale of such vaccines is also illegal. Vaccines that are used for this purpose need to be registered and authorized by the National Director Animal Health for such purpose and as such, they are only in the hands of government officials.

FMD is a highly contagious viral disease that affects all cloven hoofed animals of domestic and wild origin. It presents with sores in the mouth and in between the digits causing them to be depressed, reluctant to eat and become lame. The disease does not affect humans and meat from such animals is safe to eat when it has been treated in prescribed manner.

Livestock owners are urged to use caution when sourcing cattle, and where possible, seek health information from the seller’s veterinarian. Farmers are advised to be on the lookout for clinical signs that resemble the disease and report them immediately to the nearest State Veterinary office.