cowsThe Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry plans to lift restrictions on livestock movement in the Zambezi Region on February 17, if no new cases of Food and Mouth Disease (FMD) are detected from now onwards.

This was confirmed this week by the acting Chief Veterinary Officer in the Directorate of Veterinary Services in the ministry, Dr. Johannes Shoopala. He said restrictions would be lifted on February 17 if no new cases are reported until that time, precisely six months from the date the last case was detected on August 17, 2013. The last clinical cases of FMD were detected in August, while the deadly anthrax was detected in July at Masikili where two elephant died. Following the outbreak a total of 22 067 cattle were vaccinated against anthrax in the eastern Zambezi Region along the Chobe River. In another outbreak five cattle died of the disease at Shaile village in December 2013. A ring vaccination exercise of a 20 km radius around this area saw 10 649 cattle vaccinated against anthrax. Shoopala explained that the current restrictions on livestock movement were implemented following the detection of FMD in the Ivilivinzi, Masikili and Ikumwe crush pen areas. “Disease surveillance was intensified in the entire region and a total of 47 cases were detected. This action was taken in terms of the Animal Health Act No. 1 of 2011. Following the detection of FMD movement restrictions among other measures were enforced to establish the full extent of the outbreak,” he said.

Apart from movement control other measures like booster FMD vaccination, fortnightly to monthly surveillance, mounting roadblocks and awareness campaigns to stakeholders through meetings and media were implemented. He further says effective control of FMD requires strict movement control, which is definitely difficult in communal farming systems where there are no fence boundaries to assist in movement control. He said it was difficult to open up some areas for trade, while others were being denied especially for a disease like FMD, which is very contagious and can spread far and wide. “Opening up other areas will no doubt promote some unscrupulous farmers to move animals illegally from restricted areas to enjoy marketing opportunities in other areas. This scenario unfortunately can result in infected animals being moved to disease free areas leading to disease spread and thereby hampering control efforts,” according to Shoopala. Currently the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) is implementing a vaccination programme for FMD and anthrax in the eastern parts of the region, while the western part will be covered during this month. The ministry assures farmers that it would continue to intensify its effort to control FMD, anthrax and any other diseases that are of public health and economic importance. The ministry also intends to establish a meat processing facility in the region to enable processing of meat products through cooking, so as to alleviate the impact of FMD outbreaks in the Zambezi Region. “We appeal to the farmers in the region to work closely with the local DVS officials during disease investigation and implementation of control measures,” he appealed.

From : All Africa

By Albertina Nakale, 6 February 2014