Ezemvelo and iSimangaliso introduce safety measures to curb spread of foot-and-mouth disease
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DURBAN - GUESTS visiting the Ezemvelo KZN Wildlife (Ezemvelo) and iSimangaliso Wetlands Park will have their tyres sprayed at entry points.
Ezemvelo spokesperson, Musa Mntambo, said this will be done as a precaution to combat the spread of foot-and-mouth disease.
Last week, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development confirmed the outbreak in cattle in the UMkhanyakude District Municipality.
Minister Thoko Didiza said the department collected samples on May 26 during routine disease surveillance, after local veterinary officials noticed cattle showing suspicious lesions at one communal location.
"The diagnosis was confirmed by the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Laboratory on 27 May," she said.
Mntambo said they have introduced compulsory wheel and wheel arch spraying at gate entries.
"This precaution is due to the fact that the disease may be present in animal excreta on roads accessing the entrances to wildlife areas," he said.
Initially, the affected gates will be Nyalazi and Cengeni Gates at Hluhluwe iMfolozi Park. The affected gates under iSimangaliso are Nhlozi Gate (Charters Creek), Dukuduku and Bhangazi at Cape Vidal. Other gates may also be included should it be necessary.
He said the spraying process is quick and will not cause any unnecessary delays to guests entering the Parks.
Mntambo said these measures have been introduced to curb the possible spread of the disease to the game in these protected areas.
The chemical that is used is non-corrosive and not harmful to human beings or animals but is deadly to viruses such as foot and mouth disease and will assist in combating its spread.
The introduction of these control measures follows the declaration of Zululand, Umkhanyakude, and King Cetshwayo Municipal Districts as Disease Management Areas (DMAs) and will remain in place until the disease has been brought under control.
Foot-and-mouth disease is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock that may result in a significant economic impact. The disease affects cattle, swine, sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed ruminants.
Ezemvelo Veterinary Surgeon, Dave Cooper, said foot-and-mouth disease is caused by an Apthovirus from the family Picornaviridae and consists of seven strains, three of which are endemic to the Southern African region.
He said all strains can occur in cloven-hoofed wildlife.
"It is a trans-boundary animal disease that can disrupt regional and international trade in animals and animal-related products. Prevention of the disease is based on early detection and warning systems and the implementation of effective bio-security measures," Cooper said.