Deadly cattle virus identified

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lab mar 25 Independent Newspapers File picture: Jennifer Bruce

Polokwane - A virus which killed more than 30 cattle in Mopani, Polokwane has been identified, the Limpopo agriculture department said on Thursday.

At least 34 cattle have died in Nwamitwa and neighbouring villages since last weekend, prompting a massive vaccination drive in the area to prevent further damage to the villagers' livelihoods.

The department said the virus Ä called Neethling, and which causes lumpy skin disease Ä was spread through insects biting livestock.

Agriculture MEC Joy Matshoge and a group of veterinarians criss-crossed Mopani vaccinating cattle.

“We received a complaint from villagers that there is something that is killing their cattle, we arrived with a team of vets and discovered that it is lumpy skin disease, hence vaccination,” said Matshoge.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, lumpy skin disease is becoming a threat in most parts of Africa. Since it was discovered in 1929, it has killed dozens of cattle and buffalo in the Middle East, Kenya and Southern Africa.

Matshoge warned people not to eat meat if they knew the cattle had been infected.

“We are collecting samples for the national laboratory,” he said.

Matshoge said mobile veterinary clinics would be deployed in the area to assist residents.


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