Foot-and-mouth disease in North West not confirmed

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The Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development’s (DALRRD) veterinary services in North West, has stated that no foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak has been reported to the international monitoring body, as the disease has not been confirmed through tests. This comes after the department earlier this month announced that it suspects an outbreak of the disease in cattle on a commercial farm in the Ramatlabama village bordering Botswana in the Ngaka Modiri Molema District Municipality.

Test results

Dr Langa Madyibi, director of veterinary services at the department, says no definitive diagnosis has been made for FMD in the area. However, there are serological reactors in samples which are the first indication that something is related to FMD. “Once we get those reactors, we proceed to find the actual virus through more tests. At this stage, the only positive results of the disease were on serology which is one type of test based on antibodies.”

He says polymerase chain reaction tests for detection of the virus have so far been negative for FMD. These tests identify genetic material in a sample to diagnose infectious diseases and genetic changes. When the department’s suspicion of a possible outbreak arose earlier this month, said Dr Madyibi, the specific farm and neighbouring farms were placed under quarantine.

Read more about Onderstepoort’s foot-and-mouth vaccine here.

Ongoing investigations

According to him investigations are ongoing, and the department has extended its services after it initially focussed on a total of six farms in the area, including the farm on which the outbreak was suspected. “The investigation right now is based on engaging producers in the area to find the source of the antibody reaction. There are two possible sources. Either some animals were vaccinated, or there were animals that were vaccinated and then introduced on these farms. Our investigation is currently searching along these lines.”     

According to Dr Madyibi, suspicion of an FMD outbreak arose following general routine investigation sampling conducted for FMD in high-risk areas close to the border and other areas which pose a risk in the provinces. No clinical signs were noted at the time of sampling.

He appeals to producers in the province to observe biosecurity measures and not allow any new animals in their herds. The movement of animals from their herds to other farms also needs to be minimised. FMD is a severe, highly contagious viral disease that has a significant economic impact on livestock and any suspected case of the disease must be reported to the local state veterinarian immediately. – Christal-Lize Muller, Plaas Media

For more information on foot-and-mouth disease visit the DALRRD website – https://www.dalrrd.gov.za/.

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