File photo: Reuters
Cape Town – The Red Meat Producers’ Organisation (RPO) says the outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in the Vhembe district in Limpopo is bad news for the industry.

Botswana yesterday said it immediately banned the import of live cloven-hoofed animals and their products from the country in light of the outbreak. 

The RPO expressed its shock and dismay at the outbreak, as announced by the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (Daff) this week.

Experts from Daff and Limpopo’s Veterinary Services were dispatched to investigate, verify and determine the extent of the outbreak in cattle.

Daff said it was informed of positive laboratory results for FMD and the area was quarantined.

As a result, the official World Organisation for Animal Health recognised FMD-free status of South Africa was temporarily suspended after it was reported to the body on Monday.

Any exports where FMD-free zone attestation is required cannot be certified. According to the RPO, a previous study by the National Agricultural Marketing Council showed the agricultural sector lost more or less R6billion a year during the previous FMD outbreak.

“At the end of last year the RPO expressed its concern about the FMD situation due to the fact that the capacity to keep control measures in place was seriously lacking.

“In spite of Daff’s best efforts, sufficient funding on national and provincial level is the biggest concern,” the organisation said. 

“The RPO will in collaboration with the national Animal Health Forum do everything possible to make sure the whole process is sufficiently funded.

It was vital that Treasury, the national and provincial Departments of Agriculture as well as any possible funding donors such as the EU be approached in this regard, the RPO said.

FMD is a severe, highly contagious viral disease which affects livestock.

The disease affects cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed animals. It does not affect human beings. Signs of disease may include depressed animals, sores in the mouths of animals causing reluctance to eat and lameness. 

Any suspected case of the disease must be reported to the local State Vet immediately.