Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak; Vet dept struggles to contain spread due to drug shortages

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By Bulawayo Correspondent

MASHONALAND East and Central provinces have been hit by an outbreak of the deadly Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) with the Department of Veterinary Services battling to contain the epidemic due to drugs shortages.

Speaking at a livestock business forum in Bulawayo Tuesday, an official from the Veterinary Services Department, Reverend Spargo, cited among other factors limited availability of vaccines and illegal cattle movements as major drivers of the outbreak.

“The country is currently experiencing two outbreaks in Mashonaland Central and East. About 80 % of the FMD outbreak is caused by illegal cattle movement. The other factors also include trans-boundary spread and buffalo- cattle interactions,” said Spargo.

The veterinary official said since the beginning of this year, the department had destroyed 87 cattle and four goats, which were being illegally moved.

Spargo revealed that vaccines shortages were also making it impossible to contain the disease.

“Currently we are experiencing serotype SAT 2. We have limited availability of vaccines to contain the outbreak. We import the vaccines from neighbouring Botswana,” he said.

Spargo said following the outbreak, his department had, with immediate effect, banned the movement of live-cloven hoofed animals in or out of the affected areas.

He said the department had also come up with emergency control vaccinations within 10 km radius of the affected areas.

“We have also made surveillance in and around the affected areas through weekly cattle inspections, as well as mounting static and roving veterinary check-points to ensure compliance with movement restrictions,” he said.

Various players in the livestock industry attended the meeting.