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Update report: foot and mouth disease outbreak – KZN, Mtubatuba

1 October 2021

Report compiled by Directorate: Animal Health
This report includes all information as available by close of business on 1 October 2021. All the updates contained in this report may not currently reflect on the OIE WAHIS system due to technical difficulties with the OIE reporting system.

Update reports will from now on be issued on a monthly basis, unless there are significant changes to the previous report.

1. Current Status
There has been no significant change in the status of the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) outbreak in KwaZulu-Natal Province since the previous report of 10 September 2021. Serological and clinical surveillance is continuing. The total number of affected locations remain at twenty-nine (29), comprising twenty-seven (27) dip tanks and two (2) feedlots. Movement control measures remain in place in the reduced Disease Management Area, since the disease is still present within this area.

2. Affected locations
During the course of the outbreak, varied clinical signs have been reported, ranging from classical clinical signs of FMD to cattle in some serologically positive locations showing no visible signs of infection.

The twenty-nine positive locations identified encompass two clusters of dip tanks in communal grazing land, as well as two commercial feedlots. Clinical and serological surveillance at the feedlots indicated that there is no active disease spread amongst animals anymore and provisions were being made to allow for slaughtering with specific risk mitigation measures. The absence of active virus circulation in the two dip tank clusters has not yet been confirmed, but inspection and sample collection are ongoing.

3. Control measures implemented
3.1 Declaration of a Disease Management Area:
The Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development declared a Disease Management Area (DMA) in the KwaZulu-Natal Province in Government Gazette No. 44783 on 30 June 2021, which was reduced in size on 7 September 2021, as declared in the Government Gazette No. 45109.

The following areas are included in the new DMA:
– The portions of the Pongola local municipality east of the R66, and south and west of the N2
– The whole of the Nongoma local municipality
– The portions of the Big Five Hlabisa local municipality west of the N2
– The whole of the Mtubatuba local municipality
– The whole of the Mfolozi local municipality
– The portions of the uMhlathuze local municipality north of the R34
– The whole of Hluhluwe uMfolozi Park

3.2 Movement control:
Movement restrictions remain in place on cloven-hoofed animals, their products and genetic material out of, into, within or through the revised DMA, except on authority of a permit issued by the Veterinary Services of the area. Applications to moving animals out of, into, within and through the DMA are evaluated with regards to risk on a case-by-case basis. Permits are granted for the movement and slaughter of animals from locations that practice adequate biosecurity to ensure that there is a low risk for spreading the disease.

Roadblocks and Visible Veterinary Patrols monitor any movements of animals in the DMA, to confirm that such movements have valid permits issued by the movement control officials of the province, with fines issued to persons moving cloven-hoofed livestock without the necessary permission.

3.3 No vaccination:
The decision was made not to vaccinate for this outbreak, since it was evident that the disease was not spreading faster than it could be contained by applying movement control.

3.4 Biosecurity Awareness:
Farmers and dip tank associations have been educated on the importance of biosecurity during a disease outbreak and have been urged to apply these practices to avoid the further spread of the disease.

3.5 Controlled slaughtering of animals of affected feedlots:
The two affected feedlots remain under quarantine. Direct slaughter at designated abattoirs is continuing, with specific provisions made for risk mitigation measures in line with the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code to ensure that the risk of spreading the FMD virus is negligible. Meat from affected premises is not eligible for export.

4. Epidemiological investigation

Two rounds of clinical and serological surveillance around the affected areas have been completed to confirm the extent of the spread of FMD in the province. Ongoing dip tank and farm inspections are carried out by Veterinary Services in the Province. Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) as well as serological detection of antibodies against the virus at the Onderstepoort Veterinary Research OIE Reference Laboratory – Agricultural Research Council, confirmed all infections to date.

Epidemiological investigations to date have not revealed a plausible source for the outbreak in KZN Province. The virus responsible for the outbreak is an SAT 2 serotype and is closely related to an SAT 2 virus responsible for an outbreak that occurred in the Protection Zone in northern Limpopo Province in 2019.

5. Trade implications

There has been no change in the trade situation since the previous report. Most trade partners retained the agreements negotiated in 2019, following the loss of South Africa’s FMD free zone status, for commodities processed to ensure inactivation of the FMD virus and for pigs, pig semen, raw pork and pork products from known FMD free pig compartments.

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