Beef Farmers, No Need to Panic

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By Petronella Sibeene WINDHOEK Following Namibia’s recent decision to ban meat imports from neighbouring Botswana after an outbreak of foot-and- mouth disease in that country, local farmers are being urged not to panic. Last week, Botswana authorities notified Namibia of the outbreak of the contagious disease at Selibe-Phikwe, a town bordering Zimbabwe and South Africa. Director of Veterinarian Services in the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry, Dr Otto HÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼bschle reassured Namibian farmers not to worry about the disease as the Botswana authorities have taken standard measures in line with international regulations. “The Botswana authorities have everything clear, the standard procedures have been taken in containing the disease,” said HÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼bschle. He added that the outbreak is in the extreme eastern towns of Botswana; as such there is no need for Namibia to panic given the effective measures applied. Botswana High Commissioner to Namibia Norman Moleboge also confirmed yesterday that no deaths of animals have been reported so far. He elaborated that at least 214 cattle were discovered to have ailments suspected to be symptoms of foot and mouth disease in the northeastern part of Botswana. Samples were last Friday taken to the laboratory for testing and so far, no confirmations have been made on whether indeed this is a case of foot-and-mouth outbreak. In the meantime, the town has been placed under quarantine to restrict the movement of animals. The country is reported to have imposed a ban on exports. HÃÆ’Æ‘Æ‘ÃÆ”šÃ‚¼bschle, who just returned from Botswana added that the veterinarian officials are at border posts inspecting and ensuring that people do not bring any meat or meat products into Namibia. Although Namibia does not import meat from Botswana, precautionary measures have to be taken, as travellers into Namibia are likely to bring in animals, meat and meat products for their own consumption and use. The Acting Director of Veterinary Services Frans Joubert indicated that the ban usually remains in effect for at least six months but that would also depend on how Botswana manages to control the suspected disease. Signs of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle include flow of saliva and characteristic bubbles (aphthous ulcers) in the region of the mouth, teats and claws, depression, refusal of fodder, anorexia and lameness caused by the presence of painful vesicles (blisters) on the skin of the lips, tongue, gums, nostrils, coronary bands, inter-digital spaces and teats. Fever and decreased milk production are other signs. Cattle are infected by inhalation of respiratory aerosols emitted from pigs, which excrete large amounts of virus. The wind is able to carry this aerosol over long distances. Namibia still has a ban in place for pork imports from South Africa’s Western Cape Province due to swine fever.