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The veterinary services of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DALRRD) in North West continues to conduct constant surveillance on farms in the Potchefstroom area to identify cattle infected with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).

This comes after the first case in the province, which was initially an FMD-free zone, was confirmed by the department on a farm in the direction of Ventersdorp. Taking blood samples from cattle herds, which forms part of the surveillance process, has now been expanded to areas outside a 10km radius from the index farm.

Dr Langa Madyibi, director of veterinary services at DALRRD, says these measures were put in place after in-contact animals were sold at a local auction and moved to local areas, as well as to Gauteng and the Free State. He says their counterparts in these two provinces were notified and the necessary measures were taken. No results to confirm FMD in these two provinces have been released yet.  

Read more about the FMD vaccination here.

A large number of affected animals

Madyibi says following the first confirmed case on a farm in the Potchefstroom district, four other farms in a vicinity of 3km tested positive for FMD. He says quarantine notices, forbidding movement of animals onto and from these farms were issued.  In addition, ‘precautionary quarantines’ were also issued on other farms within a 10km radius. Approximately 3 000 animals are now at risk. 

Regarding one of the four farms, infected animals were traced back to the Vhembe district in Limpopo, which is a FMD red zone. Forward tracing was also conducted from the affected farms in the Potchefstroom area to establish where animals from those farms would have gone to. 

Auctions to continue

According to Madyibi, the affected auction has been suspended under the Agricultural Produce Agents Council (APAC) regulations. The suspension is not indefinite, and the auction grounds will be disinfected properly before operations can continue. 

All stakeholders committed to increasing biosecurity measures at auctions at a recent joint operations committee (JOC) meeting. Auctions in the district can continue, but animals will be inspected at selected points. Assistance will be offered by authorities such as the police. The department will also request a declaration of a local state of disaster from the Department of Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs (CoGTA)

No vaccination or culling

Madyibi says a conscious decision was taken not to vaccinate infected herds. They want to contain the disease through surveillance, quarantine methods and controlling movement of animals. No infected animals will be culled as the disease can be controlled without this measure. 

He adds that uncertainty regarding vaccination caused panic among farming communities, because once animals are vaccinated, they must be controlled strictly and can’t be traded outside the vaccinated area. It is also difficult to distinguish vaccinated animals from naturally infected animals.

For more information, contact Dr Langa Madyibi at – Christal-Lize Muller, AgriOrbit