A health officer checks cattle at a farm as a preventive measure against foot-and-mouth disease. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on Tuesday declared the end of a Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in Limpopo. File photo: Reuters.

JOHANNESBURG - The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) on Tuesday declared the end of a Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak, and said that there had not been any new cases of FMD in the declared disease management area since February.

DAFF said that more than three incubation periods had lapsed.

South Africa experienced an FMD outbreak in Limpopo and, as a result, lost its World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recognised FMD-free zone without vaccination status.

"We should not rest but remain vigilant and continuously seek to improve biosecurity procedures and measures to protect our animals and our people against the spreading of disease," DAFF said.

It said the intensive surveillance has demonstrated that the virus was no longer circulating. However, control measures remained in place in the area. 

The farming community and public were urged to remain vigilant. 

In April, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister, Senzeni Zokwana lead a high-profile delegation to the affected communities in Limpopo to express their heartfelt appreciation to the farmers and all other parties that worked with the DAFF to contain the outbreak and resolve the situation.

The DAFF said it prepared and submitted a dossier to the OIE applying for a Containment Zone. This application does not form part of the normal OIE processes for zoning and thus will not be considered by a formal sitting of the OIE Scientific Commission but will rather be considered through an electronic round robin process. 

"The DAFF is hopeful for a positive outcome of its application in the near future," the department said.

The department said it has negotiated market access for safe commodities to most of the trading countries. 

The most recent success was China lifting its ban on wool imports from South Africa. Negotiations were still underway for beef exports to China, and the DAFF said it was in the process of confirming dates for the next inspection visit by the Chinese veterinary authority.

African News Agency (ANA)