Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Botswana on high alert as FMD hits Zimbabwe

Farmers in Botswana have been advised to avoid transportation of livestock in and out of the country to reduce the risk of spreading Foot and Mouth (FMD) disease. This follows recent outbreaks of the contagious bovine disease in neighbouring Zimbabwe.

Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Topper Phillemon-Motsu, told The Telegraph that the suspected outbreak, based on clinical signs of foot and mouth disease, was in Gwanda area of Matebeleland South Province in Zimbabwe. He stated that the type of virus has not yet been determined. The most affected areas are farms surrounding Gwanda town.

“Intensive surveillance along the borders, public education, movement restrictions, a ban on importation of cloven hoofed animals, blockade and border patrols are part of our campaign to reduce the risk of spreading the disease into Botswana,” said Motsu.

He revealed that no cases had as yet been reported in Botswana and added that while movement of livestock within the country is allowed, cross border movement of animals has been prohibited.
“We cannot be punished for outbreaks that happen in other countries,” said Motsu.

The last recorded case of Foot and Mouth Disease (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 among cattle was also diagnosed in the Plumtree Sub-District of Matebeleland, in a communal area about 30km from the Botswana-Zimbabwe border.

Last year, Botswana was hit by several livestock diseases such as Rift Valley (RVF) at Seribe Crush in the Ramotswa Extension area. The outbreak was confirmed on 23rd June as that of a viral disease affecting both domestic and wildlife animals.

The outbreak of RVF in Ramotswa followed an outbreak in some areas in South Africa, where health authorities have reported close to 200 human cases and over 20 animal deaths from the disease. It was the first ever recorded case of Rift Valley Fever in Botswana.

Fulfilling European Union (EU) standards of quality beef has also been a challenge to some farmers. In an interview with The Telegraph, local butchery operator, Michael Madikwe, said the frequent outbreak of livestock diseases negatively affects butchery beef sales.

“We are forced to halt the slaughter of cattle and goats and wait for government officials to normalize the situation, which sometime takes forever,” said Madikwe.

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