MINISTER DIDIZA REASSURES PARLIAMENT THAT FOOT AND MOUTH DISEASE SITUATION IN LIMPOPO IS UNDER CONTROL AND THE BAN ON GATHERINGS OF CLOVEN - HOOFED ANIMALS REMAINS IN PLACE
The Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Minister, Ms Thoko Didiza (MP) yesterday appeared before the Portfolio Committee on Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, to brief them on the progress regarding the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in Molemole Municipality, Limpopo.
The minister assured members of the committee that the veterinary services' team was doing everything possible to ensure the situation does not cause any further economic harm. Since the outbreak in November 2019, the team has followed up on over 140 properties with possible links to specific auctions and affected properties. To date, 130 properties have been investigated, and precautionary quarantine notices lifted on 87 of them.
Minister Didiza further shared with members, the matrix that links the two implicated auction houses to affected properties, demonstrating the complexity of the outbreak and the risk that congregations of animals of unknown health status poses. This risk does not only apply to FMD; it has been demonstrated that the recent African swine fever outbreak had the same mode of spread. Other diseases such as tuberculosis, brucellosis, bovine leucosis, to name a few, have also been highlighted as risks that livestock owners should be careful of when buying from sources whose health status is unknown.
"We do not take the decision to ban all gatherings lightly, and we are fully aware of the economic as well as social implications of these measures. I assure you that it is meant to be temporary in order to curb the spread of the disease, and this remains the intention," said Minister Didiza.
The minister further confirmed that so far, 18 positive cases have been confirmed and reported to the World Organisation for Animal Health, formerly known as the Office International des Epizooties (OIE). All of these cases are in Limpopo with links, direct and indirect, to the two identified auctions. The slaughtering of cattle from affected properties has commenced and this is closely monitored by the Provincial Veterinary Services.
The minister also highlighted capacity and concurrent functions as some of the challenges in managing animal health and controlling diseases' outbreaks.
"I note the concerns raised by the Portfolio Committee on the ban on auctions and I will engage them with the steering committee on FMD on the uplifting of the ban sooner for their consideration," said Minister Didiza.
Minister Didiza wishes to assure all citizens that the meat, and other products from FMD infected cattle is safe for human consumption and any products which are discarded from the slaughterhouse is purely to manage the disease and prevent further spread.
Consumers are therefore reminded to only buy meat from reputable outlets as it would have gone through meat inspection and certified fit for human consumption.
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