Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
The livestock industry is under threat from the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) which has hit most parts of Masvingo, Midlands and spread to most parts of Matabeleland South and lower parts of Manicaland.
Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development deputy minister responsible for Livestock Production, Cde Paddy Zhanda confirmed the outbreak on Thursday. He, however, could not give the exact statistics of the affected herd.
“For a highly contagious disease like FMD which spreads like flu in people, counting the numbers of affected livestock is not meaningful as new cases keep arising once the infection has arrived in a herd. For successful control, stakeholders in the cattle and pig industry need to comply with veterinary movement restrictions applied to hotspots and outbreak areas,” he said. Cde Zhanda said Government required between $2 million to $3 million annually for control limited to hot spots to run the vaccination and surveillance programmes.
“We rather describe the spread by areas that have recorded infected herds. This is why we describe spread as ‘affected areas’. Our control measures also describe numbers of herds in affected areas.
He said FMD was a notifiable disease which was officially monitored, prevented and controlled through a Government programme.
“The Division of Veterinary Services maintains a high alert system of surveillance on an on-going basis and runs regular preventive vaccination programmes around known hotspots to prevent spread into other areas, thereby affecting commercial interests of the cattle industry.
“For successful control, stakeholders in the cattle and pig industry need to comply with veterinary movement restrictions applied to hotspots and outbreak areas,” he said.
Cde Zhanda said Government required between $2 to $3 million annually for control limited to hot spots to run the annual vaccination and surveillance programmes.
“Once it has spread outside these hotspots as is the case now, more vaccine is called for to cover additional numbers of cattle in the outbreak areas. Outbreak areas require to be repeatedly vaccinated at four-monthly intervals until six to 18 months after the last case has been recorded. This means additional costs,” he said.
Affected animals fail to eat due to the pain of the sores in their mouths. Young calves may die from infection or because their mothers cannot feed them due to pain in their milk udders.
Milk yield also falls.
FMD is an internationally listed or notifiable disease and it affects the economies of countries depending on cattle and pig industry.
Countries experiencing FMD therefore suffer from trade embargoes limiting exports of even non-livestock products from affected areas.
Stakeholders in the livestock industry are strongly advised to comply with veterinary restrictions if the cattle economy is to revive successfully.