Foot-and-mouth disease poses threat of ‘ national disaster’

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These warning lights flashed last week when the meat industry held emergency meetings with the Directorate of Veterinary Services to be briefed on the impact of FMD in the Ohangwena region. It is inevitable that this new outbreak results in a total ban on animal movements to and from as well as inside the NCA. The result is that no slaughtering will take place in the NCA for a much longer period than anticipated.  Meatco was planning to open the Oshakati abattoir by end of June but due to these developments, this will no longer be the case, Meatco communication officer Thokozile Mdlalose yesterday confirmed exclusively to New Era.

He says Meatco, as sole slaughterer of animals n the NCA,  is in continued consultation with the Department of Veterinary Services within the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry in order to map out future strategies in terms of marketing animals in the NCA. untitled-(7)

“It is imperative that the current outbreak be contained to the infected zone, and that the surveillance zone be monitored consistently. To this end, DVS has implemented standard protocols relating to such outbreaks. These include strategic roadblocks with decontamination capabilities as well as the deployment of surveillance teams within the area. It remains imperative that the outbreak be contained to the current infection zone and that it does not have a spill over towards other areas within the NCA or to areas south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence. Should this be the case it will elevate the current regional impact to a national disaster for the entire Meat Industry and Namibia as a whole,” he notes. He was part of a Meatco delegation under the leadership of Meatco CEO Adv Vekuii Rukoro that visited the NCA’s last week and held meetings with producers and community leaders to inform them of the seriousness of the situation as it could take until the end of the year before the situation is cleared by South African authorities, Namibia’s main importer of meat and meat products from the NCA’s.

Following a special Animal Health Form meeting last Friday, upon the request of DVS, the Meat Industry is currently compiling a proposal aimed at assisting DVS with material, equipment and resources as per a “needs” list prepared by DVS and Meatco is part of this industry process.

Acting Director of DVs Dr John Shoopala yesterday said the disease is under control for now as no new cases has been reported to extension officers and field workers in the affected areas but DVS is dealing with the outbreaks as a matter of life and death as FMD is the most contagious of al animal disease. The vaccination of some 250 000  animals in the three affected areas in the Ohangwena and Oshikoto regions will be conducted after DVS secured vaccine from Zambezi and Kavango regions to help combat the disease in the initial stage. DVS is still waiting for more vaccine from Botswana, which should be arriving soon.

Due to the outbreak, movement of animals from south of the Veterinary Cordon Fence to the NCA’s have also been suspended as well as movement of animals across the Namibian/Angolan border.

“DVS is continuously conducting information meetings with communal farmers in the NCAs and this last Saturday it addressed producers from the Manggeti Blocks at Ondangwa. The most important message now to farmers is not to move a single head of livestock because FMD is so contagious,” he concludes.

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