Botswana farmers are advised to avoid transportation of livestock to reduce the risk of spreading Foot and Mouth, Rift Valley Fever and Mange diseases. This follows the recent outbreaks of these contagious bovine diseases, which pose a threat to Botswana’s livestock industry.
The Ministry of Agriculture is in collaboration with the Botswana Defence Force and Botswana Police Services in the maintenance and patrolling of the fences along the border.
The outbreak of Rift Valley Fever (RVF) at Seribe Crush in the Ramotswa Extension area was confirmed by the laboratory on 23rd June as a viral disease of domestic and wildlife animals, but it can also affect people. In animals it is mainly transmitted through mosquito bites.
People can also contract the disease through handling or consuming contaminated materials such as meat, milk, body fluids and sick animals. The disease in animals is characterized by abortion at all stages of pregnancy and high mortality in young animals.
The outbreak of RVF in Ramotswa follows the outbreak of the disease in some areas in South Africa, where health authorities have so far reported close to 200 human cases and over 20 animal deaths from the disease. This is the first ever recorded case of Rift Valley Fever in Botswana.
On the issue of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), the last recorded case of FMD was in Ngamiland in November 2009. Outbreaks of FMD in southern Zimbabwe have a history of spilling over into Botswana. It is reported that the disease is in the Plumtree Sub-District of Matebeleland South Province of Zimbabwe, a communal area about 30km from the Botswana-Zimbabwe border.
Addressing a press conference on Thursday, the Minister of Agriculture, Christiaan De Graaff, said that serious measures had been put in place to prevent the diseases crossing into Botswana.
“Intensive surveillance along the borders, public education, movement restrictions, banning importation of cloven hoofed animals, blockade and border patrols are part of our campaign to reduce the risk of spreading the diseases,” said De Graaff.
He also highlighted the intensive collaborative maintenance, by the BDF and Police Services, of the cordon fence along the borders.
“I have also toured the cordon fence with the Minister of Defence, Justice and Security and am pleased to inform the public that the fence is sound and our maintenance crew is working around the clock preventing the disease spreading into Botswana,” said De Graaff.
The outbreak of Mange Disease was reported in sheep and goats in the Kgalagadi District in September last year.
The disease is caused by biting mites. Animals gradually lose weight and can die from loss of blood and dehydration. Farmers are advised not to slaughter their stock for consumption within 35 days from the day of treatment as consuming such meat could be harmful.