On 1 November 2019, veterinary services were alerted to clinical signs suspected to be Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in a herd of cattle on a farm in the Molemole Local Municipality of Capricorn District, Limpopo Province. This farm is located in the previous FMD free zone of South Africa. Samples were collected and FMD was confirmed by the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research Transboundary Animal Disease Programme.
FMD is a highly contagious viral disease that affects cattle, pigs (domestic and wild), sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed animals. Signs of disease in animals may include depressed animals, sores in the mouth of animals causing reluctance to eat, and lameness. The disease does not affect humans and it is safe to consume products of cloven-hoofed animals, such as meat and milk.
Monitoring: Following the outbreak, the farm was quarantined. Currently monitoring of production facilities, feedlots and abattoirs is being conducted in Molemole District and adjacent areas.
International trade: The Molemole-outbreak is adjacent to the Vhembe-outbreak of January 2019 and thus close monitoring and vigilance in the Limpopo Province enabled rapid detection of the incident. All control measures for the Limpopo Province are still in place.
A number of agreements were reached with trade partners to trade in safe commodities following the January outbreak; the department has sought assurances that these agreements still hold.
Temporary ban on auctions: Live auctions in Limpopo, Mpumalanga, Gauteng and North West Provinces are suspended with immediate effect until further notice. Minister will gazette this in the next few days.
Advice to farmers: Farmers in entire South Africa are advised to practice strict biosecurity measures. All movements of animals should be done under close veterinary supervision and movements should be restricted as far as possible. Farmers should seek assurances of the health status of any animals that they wish to bring onto their farms prior to such introductions. It is further advised that they obtain a veterinary health certificate from the herd of origin confirming that the herd was inspected and that the animals originated from an unaffected area.
Foot and Mouth Disease is mainly spread by the movement of infected animals.
The uncontrolled movement could thus spread the disease over significant distance. All livestock keepers should remain vigilant and report any suspected case to their local state or private veterinarian.
Cooperation between all members of the farming community should ensure a rapid and effective resolution of this outbreak.