Dumisani Nsingo, Senior Farming Reporter
A FRESH foot and mouth disease (FMD) outbreak has been reported at Nyamandovu, Umguza District in Matabeleland North Province.
Agricultural officials from Matabeleland North said the highly contagious viral disease of livestock was detected two weeks ago at Mimosa Park farm in the Nyamandlovu area.
Last year, Matabeleland North experienced outbreaks in Nkayi, Lupane and Hwange districts.
Matabeleland Council of Farmers’ Unions chairman Mr Muhle Masuku said reports suggest that the FMD outbreak was confined to one farm.
“We note the announcement by (the Department of) Veterinary (Services) that there is suspected outbreak of FMD. The indications so far are that the FMD is confined to one property. All adjacent properties don’t have an outbreak.
“Unconfirmed reports reaching us are that the property has links with Koala Park Abattoirs in Chiredzi. We are disturbed by this scenario, if it turns out that indeed the property is linked to Koala Park. We call upon the Veterinary to have in-depth investigations as to where this FMD is coming from,” said Mr Masuku.
Over the years numerous FMD outbreaks have been a result of illegal livestock movement especially of cattle from affected areas to the unaffected ones.
“Could it be that it (the FMD) came from illegal cattle movement from red (quarantined) areas. It boggles the mind why this outbreak is confined to one property.
“Our farmers have suffered a lot due to this FMD and in some cases it is brought to us from other regions. We are also concerned by the silence on the part of the Veterinary to give preliminary guidance on the matter,” said Mr Masuku.
Zimbabwe Commercial Farmers Union Matabeleland North chairman Mr Winston Babbage acknowledged that the province continues to experience FMD outbreaks due to illegal movement of cattle by some unscrupulous farmers.
“Irresponsible behaviour from farmers and illegal cattle movement are making livestock farming difficult,” said Mr Babbage.
He took a swipe at the Department of Veterinary Service for its failure to put in place measures to curb the illegal movement of cattle along the Bulawayo-Tsholotsho road which cuts across Nyamandlovu.
FMD is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock with significant economic impact. The disease affects cattle and swine as well as sheep, goats, and other cloven-hoofed ruminants. All species of deer and antelope as well as elephant, and giraffe are susceptible to FMD.
In a susceptible population, morbidity approaches 100 percent. Intensively reared animals are more susceptible to the disease than traditional breeds. The disease is rarely fatal in adult animals but there is often high mortality in young animals due to myocarditis or by lack of milk when the dam is infected by the disease.
FMD is characterised by fever and blister-like sores on the tongue and lips, in the mouth, on the teats and between the hooves. The disease causes severe production losses and while most affected animals recover, the disease often leaves them debilitated.
Officials at the Department of Veterinary Services confirmed the outbreak but the provincial veterinary officer Dr Polex Moyo could not be drawn to comment referring this reporter to his principals.