The Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Forestry yesterday announced it has procured enough vaccine against foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) to treat 1.4 million cattle.
The Agriculture, Water and Forestry Minister John Mutorwa said the vaccination of cattle in affected areas has already begun and was in full swing as planned. The ministry has 572 000 vaccines which are enough to keep the vaccination exercise going for the next 20 days, while 130 000 are on a truck on their way to Namibia from neighbouring Botswana, where they were procured. More consignments of 500 000 vaccines are expected to arrive by the end of June and July, respectively. So far 74 000 cattle of the 1. 4 million affected were vaccinated by May 29.
The ministry is scheduled to vaccinate one million cattle within the next 40 days to prevent the spread of the disease to other areas.
At the moment the ministry is vaccinating 4 000 cattle per day,
however the number is expected to increase to at least 20 000 cattle per day to reach the set target.
Mutorwa who is on a field trip in some areas of Oshikoto and Ohangwena regions urged farmers not to panic.
“As for Tuesday, the disease had not gone outside the affected areas so don’t panic as if the situation is not under control. We hope that we succeed,” said Mutorwa.
So far the agriculture minister visited Onanadi near Endola, Okalupalona in Ohangwena, the borders between Angola and Namibia and Ondama Yomunghete in Okongo where 200 sick animals were identified marking the first case to be reported on May 11.
The situation at Ondama Yamunghete, which is a water point along the Namibia/Angola border, is reported to be improving although the absence of fencing between the two borders is a challenge to closely monitor cattle movements between the two countries.
“About 200 000 cattle graze 250 kilometres into Angola on a regular basis,” said Adrianatus Maseke the chief veterinary officer.
All the animals at Ondama Yamunghete were vaccinated between May 19 and 20 with the next vaccination area expected to be done within the next six weeks. Alec Bishi from the veterinary directorate assured the residents of Omusati there was no case reported in their region as yet.
He said the few suspicious symptoms were just similar to FMD which could be the result of injuries to the mouth due to the harsh environment animals are exposed to.
Mutorwa warned people against engaging in unlawful acts such as cutting animal disease control fences.
“Any transgressions must be dealt with and swiftly in terms of the country’s laws,” said Mutorwa.
Mutorwa further urged citizens to continue giving their maximum cooperation and support to officials executing their duties at emergency roadblocks and to those vaccinating cattle.
The veterinarian on the ground in the northwest Kenneth Shoombe thanked the communities of Okongo, Eengodi and Okankolo for ensuring that the disease had not spread to other areas.
Shoombe also appealed to farmers to report suspicious cases, adding that it is important to be on the lookout for the disease as it assists the ministry in knowing the extent of the disease and to analyse whether there is progress in containing the animal sickness.