It has been 14 weeks since the first signs of the foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak in the high surveillance area of South Africa’s FMD-free zone were detected. South Africa lost its World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) recognised FMD-free Zone, Without Vaccination Status on 7 January.

Outbreak status

There have been no new cases of FMD detected in the disease management area, declared in Limpopo, in the last ten weeks and thus, three incubation periods have lapsed. Intensive surveillance has shown that the virus did not spread and the outbreak has been contained.

FMD-free zone status

Strict movement controls remain in place in the disease management area and all are encouraged to adhere to these regulations even though roadblocks will most likely be discontinued by the end of April. No animals may move into, out of, through or inside the disease management area without state veterinary approval. No unprocessed animal products of cloven-hooved animals are allowed out of the disease management area without the necessary state veterinary permits. These movement controls will remain in place for the next few months, until the outbreak is fully resolved.

A full animal identification and traceability system is being put in place for all vaccinated animals in the previously FMD-free zone of the disease management area. The submission to the OIE’s technical committee for a containment zone is being prepared, albeit later than anticipated.

Opening countries for export

Trade has resumed for commodities considered safe by the OIE. The Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (DAFF) has successfully negotiated the revision of veterinary health certificates for beef to Bahrain, Lesotho, Mozambique, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, Swaziland, Seychelles, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates; and for game (venison produced before 5 December this year) to Namibia.

Trade in pork from FMD-free pig compartments has been re-opened to Lesotho, Seychelles, Mozambique, Swaziland and Namibia (partially).

 The markets for dairy products have largely been restored; while the market for the export of wool to Egypt has been opened. The trade task team is working hard to open trade channels for these commodities that are still not trading freely, mainly wool, mohair and hides (for leather production).

 Negotiations still underway include: Namibia (for beef); Botswana (for pork); Egypt (for hides, skin); Malaysia (for hides, skin and wool).

DAFF thanks all farmers, industry, other government institutions and colleagues that are working with veterinary services to resolve the current situation. More funding is required to resolve the situation, and to implement a more sustainable FMD control strategy. – DAFF and NAHF