Western Cape livestock industry working together against foot and mouth disease | Western Cape Government



Western Cape livestock industry working together against foot and mouth disease

21 June 2024


Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) is a highly contagious and painful viral disease of cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, sheep, goats, and pigs that causes sores in the mouth and/or around the feet. However, it can take up to two weeks from the time the animal is infected until it shows clinical signs. During this period, animals may appear normal and healthy but they are infectious and if they are moved, the disease will spread to other animals. FMD can also be spread through vehicles transporting animals, feed, equipment and clothing and footwear of people who have been in contact with infected animals.

Since 30 April 2024, FMD outbreaks have been reported on multiple farms in the Eastern Cape, some of which are approximately 50km from the Western Cape border. This continued spread underscores how rapidly FMD can be transmitted. The Western Cape Veterinary Services and the livestock industry are urging producers and livestock owners to remain vigilant and to take all possible precautions to avoid introducing the disease to our province.

To reduce the risk of introducing FMD infected or vaccinated animals, the following should be taken into consideration:

  • No cloven-hoofed animals should be purchased and moved from an area which is placed under movement control or may be under investigation for FMD. This also include areas where animals may have been vaccinated previously for FMD.
  • Buying animals at an auction outside the province remains very risky and is not advised. Auctions held within the Western Cape should be conducted strictly in accordance with the Agricultural Produce Agents Council (APAC) rules.
  • Animal transport vehicles (fomites) can also be a source of FMD virus. Vehicles should be washed and disinfected after animals are unloaded, and before they are allowed to enter a property that keeps livestock and load cloven-hoofed animals. A current wash certificate stating the date, time, effective disinfectant used (including concentration and contact time to ensure inactivation of the FMD virus) must always accompany a transport vehicle and must be presented for viewing on request.
  • Destruction of bedding and feed that accompany animals during transport, particularly from outside the province, is highly recommended as the FMD virus can survive for up to 6 months on such material.
  • Lock the farm gates and limit visitors (by appointment only) and deliveries to the property. Arrange meetings with agents and other parties off-farm;
  • Any person entering the farm should use a footbath and sanitise their hands;
  • Workers who return from leave must have a clean set of clothes;
  • Workers working with animals should be supplied with a plastic apron and a 2% citric acid solution to use in between working with one animal and another animal; and
  • In order to reduce the risk that FMD is spread with infected animals, Government Gazette notice 47263, issued in October 2022, requires cattle, sheep and goats moving within areas outside FMD disease management areas (including the Western Cape) to be accompanied by the following documents:
  1. An owner’s declaration about the origin, health status and destination of the animals. It is highly recommended that movement from high-risk provinces, including the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal, be avoided; and
  2. Undertaking by the recipient that the new animals will be kept separate for 28 days before they are mixed with the resident herd. This isolation period allows the new animals to be observed for signs of disease without placing the rest of the herd at risk. The involvement of your veterinarian to also test for other animal diseases during this period is highly recommended. This on-farm isolation is an essential biosecurity tool for disease risk reduction and it requires separated facilities, dedicated workers, equipment, feed and water sources/supplies, with no cross contamination. Correctly applying this will require good planning and uncompromising commitment from all humans involved at farm level.

To ensure the implementation and checking livestock consignments for the correct documents, the Western Cape Traffic Services have been requested to assist with monitoring vehicles transporting livestock. This will be implemented with immediate effect.

In addition,

  1. Farmers can obtain further re-assurance by requesting a health certificate from a private veterinarian to accompany purchased animals. The veterinarian should indicate that the disease does not occur in the area or herd of origin and that the animals being moved are clinically healthy. This is highly recommended for all consignments, particularly when originating from outside the WCP
  2. An online movement notification portal has been made available to all livestock owners in the Western Cape. The automated movement notification confirmation will enable batch traceability within, into and out of the province. It will also enable the State Veterinarian to assess the disease risk of a movement based on origin and destination. Please register for the portal here. The possibility to inspect high risk animals after arrival can assist in early detection of a possible introduction of FMD, thereby limiting spread on the farm and within the province. The provincial Department of Agriculture has sent a web link to all known owners of FMD susceptible animals and the link is also available on the department’s website.
  3. Check for a valid wash certificate for all vehicles transporting livestock before a livestock owner allowed access to that vehicle onto the farm. As far as practically possible, a transport vehicle should be washed and disinfected after off-loading animals and before leaving the farm. It is highly recommended that bedding and feed from the transport vehicle be burned, buried, or composted immediately.

Through collaborative vigilance in animal movements, we can prevent FMD from entering our province and protect herds, businesses and jobs.

Should you have any suspicion of FMD, please report it immediately to your local state veterinarian. The contact details for your local state veterinary office are available at: https://rb.gy/tii7zw

Through collaborative vigilance in animal movements, we can prevent FMD from entering our province and the severe economic losses that can accompany this.

For further information and examples of all documents mentioned, please visit the Western Cape Veterinary Services website at https://shorturl.at/Hxfeo

To learn more about FMD, visit the WCDoA website: https://bit.ly/3PpeK8R




Media Enquiries: 

Mary James

Head of Communication

Cell: 084 817 2376

Email: Mary.James@westerncape.gov.za


Jaco van den Berg

Chairman : RPO Western Cape

Cell : 082 806 5742

Email : jacovdberg@gmail.com