A livestock vaccination campaign against the spread of Foot & Mouth Disease (FMD) is to be undertaken in the KwaHlabisa region northeast of Richards Bay and close to the Hluhluwe Umfolozi Game Reserve.

According to the Dept of Agriculture (Dalrrd) this follows an outbreak of FMD in the area, which is showing signs of active spread in the area.

The department explains that in January there was a sudden flare-up of the FMD outbreak which was first reported in May 2021.

A new cluster of infected diptanks was identified in Hlabisa, between the two clusters previously affected.

This new cluster is still within the reduced Disease Management Area (DMA) in KwaZulu-Natal, however, it remains in communal grazing land, where all epidemiologically linked diptanks are at a high risk of infection.

The vaccination campaign aims to reduce the viral load and so control further spread of the disease.

At this stage, says the department, the vaccination will be limited to cattle within the DMA in the region, to slow down the spread of the disease, as well as to prevent spread outside the DMA and into the game reserve.

The intention is also not to vaccinate all animals inside the DMA, but only as necessary, to contain the spread of the disease. A risk-based approach will be followed, to ensure that the areas at highest risk are vaccinated first. It is estimated that 40 000 animals will be vaccinated during the initial vaccination campaign, which will start this month.

The movement protocol and permit system for movement of cloven-hoofed animals remains in place in the reduced DMA and the department has asked farmers to continue complying with the movement restrictions that are still in place, as these restrictions are necessary to prevent the escape of the virus out of the affected areas and, therefore, shorten the duration of the outbreak.

Visible veterinary patrols and roadblocks will remain in place in the reduced DMA, to control the movement of livestock and to monitor adherence to the movement protocol. Movement of cloven-hoofed animals and their products into, out of, through, or within the reduced DMA is still only allowed by permit. This is issued by the veterinary services of the area. The movement protocol can be obtained from KZN Veterinary Services. Livestock owners are encouraged to submit all applications for movement to the Provincial Veterinary Movement Control Officers for evaluation and risk assessment.

Applications and queries can be submitted to fmdpermitskzn@gmail.com.

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