Eleven commercial properties with an estimated 14,000 cattle, which include five feedlots and six commercial breeding farms affected by the foot-and-mouth outbreak, have been linked directly or indirectly to cattle that have been sold at auctions. File picture: ANA

PORT ELIZABETH - In a joint statement on Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development and the Foot-and-Mouth Task team has reported progress over the past four weeks, in identifying properties affected since the outbreak in Molemole, Limpopo. 

Eleven commercial properties with an estimated 14,000 cattle - seven properties in Capricorn, two in Vhembe and two in Mopani district municipalities - which include five feedlots and six commercial breeding farms, have been linked directly or indirectly to cattle sold at auctions. 

The task team says that follow-up investigations and sampling are still being conducted to determine the extent of the outbreak. 

Meanwhile, Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza has gazetted a national ban on gathering cloven-hoofed animals, including livestock auctions, shows and similar activities. 

Owners and managers of land on which there are animals, are responsible for taking "all reasonable steps" to prevent and contain the infection of animals with disease, or parasite, in terms of the Animal Diseases Act, the statement said. 

Anyone spreading FMD through the movement of animals may, therefore, be held civilly and or criminally liable for such an offence. 

It says that all suspected and infected properties have been placed under quarantine and no livestock is allowed to move in, through or out of the affected properties. Immediate neighbouring properties have also been placed under quarantine.

"Quarantine on the suspected and neighbouring properties will be lifted as soon as it has been proven that all animals on these properties are free of FMD.

The owners of infected properties have been given slaughter out options to facilitate depopulation." 

All owners of livestock have been encouraged to observe strict biosecurity measures on their premises. The biosecurity guidelines are available on the National Animal Health Forum website www.nahf.co.za. 

They include the following measures to prevent infections:

- Not moving high risk animals;

- Only buying animals from a proven source;

- Insisting on a veterinary attestation/health declaration to accompany any animals that are brought in. 

"Adherence to the above measures will assist government and farmers to resolve the situation. It is vital that all stakeholders act reasonably, responsibly and according to the law at all times," the statement said. 

African News Agency (ANA)