The Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform has confirmed outbreaks of swine flu and botulism in the Northern Cape. Picture: Eranga Jayawardena/ AP

Kimberley - The Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform has confirmed outbreaks of swine flu and botulism in the Northern Cape, where livestock has been placed at risk.
DA spokesperson for Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform Ismail Obaray added that a recent outbreak of African swine flu in Delportshoop and a botulism outbreak that claimed 150 baboons in Calvinia had resulted in the death of a number of sheep in the Province.

The spokesperson for the Department of Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform, Ali Diteme, said that two outbreaks occurred in Steenkampsvlate in Sutherland and Nieuwoudtville during autumn this year, where large losses of livestock had incurred.

He indicated that feed became contaminated with Clostridium botulinum toxins in Sutherland after a baboon died on a stack of lucern bales.

“Some of the contaminated bales were fed to a group of ewes and about 50 ewes died within the space of two days,” said Diteme.

“All deaths stopped after the affected feed was withdrawn and the herd was vaccinated.”

Diteme stated that a chronic outbreak was recorded in Nieuwoudtville, which was aggravated by severe drought conditions.

“Animals started chewing on dried bones and ingested toxins as a result. Affected animals died and more carcasses were lying around and the cycle continued.”

He explained that by the time the outbreak was reported about 100 sheep had died, with carcasses littering the field.

“Immediate vaccination of the flock was advised.”

Diteme pointed out that infected meat was not safe to eat, even though the chance of contracting botulism was “very low”.

“Botulism is not uncommon in the Calvinia area and outbreaks are usually seen in unvaccinated herds. All animals are affected by botulism. Typical outbreaks only cause mild losses with fewer than 10 animals dying before intervention in the form of vaccination is done.”

He added that botulism was not contagious and not a state controlled disease.

“Vaccination is not compulsory but strongly advised. No quarantine or slaughter out policies are practised. Affected animals usually die and an outbreak normally stops quickly after vaccination is performed.”

Diteme stated that the highly contagious swine flu manifested itself in a haemorrhagic fever in domestic pigs.

“African swine flue is a viral disease that results in up to 100 percent mortality. The catastrophic effect of this disease on pig production, from household to commercial level, has serious socio-economic consequences and implications for food security. It is a serious trans-boundary animal disease with the potential for rapid international spread.”

Diteme said that domestic as well as wild pigs and boars were highly susceptible to African swine flu.

“Scavenging animals are a major concern during an emergency disease outbreak, because they can catch or spread disease easily.

“When an outbreak occurs, large amounts of infected pork becomes available as pigs die. Surplus meat may be dried or subjected to other processes that do not inactivate the virus and pigs are moved rapidly in attempts to avoid disease and evade uncompensated compulsory slaughter.”

He added that swill feeding that contained large amounts of infected pork was a major source of infection. “It has probably contributed to many of the outbreaks that have occurred.”

Diteme indicated that humans were not susceptible to African swine flu.

“As a result of its high tolerance to a wide range of environmental factors, only certain disinfectants are effective in the control of African swine flu. The ability of the virus to remain active in edible products such as chilled meat (at least 15 weeks) and three to six months in processed hams and sausages that have not been cooked or smoked at a high temperature has important implications for the spread of African swine flu. Undercooked pork, dried and smoked pork and carcass meal derived from pigs must be regarded as potentially dangerous if fed to pigs.”

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