The North West Agriculture and Rural Development Department says a veterinary services team is hard at work to ensure that all precautionary measures are taken to prevent the further spread of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD).
The department said five farms have been placed in quarantine and forward traced farms on precautionary quarantine following FMD in Potchefstroom recently.
The department said since the identification and confirmation of the outbreak in the area, a Joint Operations Centre has been set up, including among others, veterinarians from the department, the provincial disaster management office, farmers’ unions and the National Department of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development.
“The working team consisting of members from the Veterinary Services is currently in and around the area and all other farms which connects the original property to undertake inspections and collect samples where significant clinical signs are presented.
“The team is conducting inspections and surveillance through blood sampling in order to determine the extent of the spread,” the department said in a statement.
Infected cattle sold at auction traced in Gauteng and Free State
The department also announced that about 217 cattle, including sheep and goats, that were sold at a Potchefstroom auction have all been traced in Vanderbijlpark, Westonaria and Kempton Park; Free State; and Ventersdorp and Potchefstroom in North West, and the farms have been visited.
“The auction in Potchefstroom received 12 cattle from one of the infected farms and there was forward tracing from the auction to all farms of destination. Gauteng and Free State Veterinary Services have been informed. The names of the buyers are known to Veterinary Services unit of the province,” the department said.
Warning against vaccinating of animals without authorisation
The department called on animal farmers not to panic and urged them against vaccinating animals for Foot and Mouth Disease without authorisation.
“Vaccines without authorisation can result in vaccinated animals testing positive and being classified as infected resulting in further measures being imposed on the farm. In the North West Province, vaccination of cattle and pigs against FMD is not permitted and is therefore illegal.
“The sale of such vaccines is also illegal. Vaccines that are used for this purpose need to be registered and authorised by the National Director Animal Health for such purpose and as such, they are only in the hands of government officials,” the department said.
Gauteng farmers urged to be extra vigilant
Meanwhile, Gauteng Economic Development, Agriculture, Environment and Rural Development MEC, Parks Tau, has appealed to farmers in the province to exercise extra vigilance for FMD signs in their livestock.
“All suspicious cases should be immediately reported to veterinary services for investigation purposes. Farmers are also advised to take extra precautions and not buy livestock [including] cattle, sheep, pigs and goats from sellers whose animal health status is unknown as well as known FMD control areas.
“Livestock auctioneers are urged to be even more cautions when accepting animals into their premises for sale, as they could inadvertently become a vehicle for spread of the disease. We also encourage farmers to limit movement of animals, panic selling, people, vehicles and farming equipment between farms as these play a role in the spread of FMD,” Tau said.
Tau said the disease has been confirmed on a farm in the Randfontein area and suspicious cases are being investigated in Tarlton, Fochville, Walmansthal and Onderstepoort.
“All these cases were imported into Gauteng from neighbouring provinces. We would like to reassure the public that all measures are being taken by the Provincial Veterinary Services to limit the spread of this disease,” Tau said.
Tau urged farmers to report any suspicious foot and mouth disease clinical signs in their herds, including salivation, blisters in the mouth, limping or hoof lesions to the nearest state veterinary office in Randfontein office: Dr Jaison Mpofu 072 900 0869, Germiston office: Dr Duma Mpofu 071 543 3028 and Pretoria office: Dr Nadia Jordaan 072 904 2478.