The movement of all cloven-hoofed animals and their products within, into and out of the Zambezi Region has been banned after an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) was confirmed at Sigwe village.

FMD officially confirmed in Namibia

FMD was confirmed by the acting chief veterinary officer in the agriculture ministry, Albertina Musilika-Shilongo. Sigwe village is located in the Kabbe North constituency and lies in the eastern floodplains of the Zambezi Region, about 90km east of Katima Mulilo.

According to Musilika-Shilongo, officials of the Directorate of Veterinary Services (DVS) in the Zambezi Region were notified by farmers on 8 August that some of their animals were limping, salivating and not grazing. DVS found that two kraals at Sigwe village were infected with FMD.

About 50 of the 106 cattle showed signs of FMD infection. The population of cattle considered to be at risk of FMD infection is approximately 4 000. The disease is suspected to have been transmitted to the cattle from African buffalo, which are common carriers of the virus that causes FMD.

“Clinical inspection of cattle was done and samples for laboratory analysis were taken. FMD was subsequently confirmed by the central laboratory in Windhoek on 11 August,” says Musilika-Shilongo.

Control measures put into place

In line with the Animal Health Act 1 of 2011 and FMD Contingency Plan, the following control measures have been put into place with immediate effect:

  • A complete movement restriction ban of all cloven-hoofed animals and their products from within the Zambezi Region, with immediate effect. Cloven-hoofed animals include cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.
  • Movement restriction ban of other potentially infectious commodities out of the Zambezi Region, including hides, skins, game trophies, grass and plant materials.

Roadblocks will be set up at strategic points and members of the public are urged to cooperate with veterinary and police officials. Surveillance teams have also been deployed in the region to establish the extent of the outbreak, and farmers are requested to present their livestock for inspections.

All previously issued permits into and out of the Zambezi Region have been cancelled and recalled.

Transmission and spread of FMD

FMD is a viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals and can be spread through any and all of the following:

  • Infected animals that are newly introduced to the herd.
  • Contaminated vehicles.
  • Contaminated materials such as hay, feed, water and milk.
  • Contaminated clothing, footwear or equipment.
  • Infected meat or other contaminated animal products.
  • Infected aerosols, as the virus can be spread from an infected property via air currents.
  • Animals that have recovered from the infection may sometimes still carry the virus and initiate new outbreaks of the diseases.

The usual support in dealing with FMD outbreaks is requested from farmers and the general public, and all suspected cases should be reported to the nearest state veterinary office. – Press release, Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Republic of Namibia.