Eba Kandovazu

A TOTAL 5000 cattle have been infected by the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in the Zambezi region, since its detection in May this year. A total 150 cattle have died as a result, Agriculture, Water and Land Reform Minister, Calle Schlettwein, has announced.

Schlettwein says this is despite the higher vaccination coverage in the infected herds, adding that infection rates remained high among the vaccinated cattle, which is an indication of the presence of a different FMD virus variant, which was confirmed to be a new FMD virus serotype O in August, the first time in the history of Namibia.

Schlettwein has revealed that investigations concluded that the new FMD serotype O was introduced into Namibia from Zambia through illegal cross-border movement of livestock between the Zambezi region and Zambia. The serotype O was first detected in Zambia, in 2018, the Minister says.

“The new FMD serotype O also causes clinical cases in goats and sheep and they can spread the disease further to other susceptible animals. In addition to FMD serotype O, Zambia has reported an ongoing outbreak of FMD serotype A in areas next to the border with Namibia and Angola. This disease poses a high risk of the introduction of FMD serotype A into Namibia, which could spread to the North Central regions, if the current cross-border livestock movement continues. It is important to note that the FMD serotypes A & O are new viruses in

Southern Africa and there is, therefore, a need for collaboration among SADC Member States, ” Schlettwein warns.

Government has spent N$ 6,032,261.51 on the procurement of 340 000 doses, which were delivered on 17 September.

“Vaccination has started and it is currently on going, targeting the cattle population of 170, 000 in the Zambezi region. Farmers are urged
to take all cattle to the nearest crush pen for vaccination. Farmers and livestock traders are requested to refrain from illegal movement of animals and potentially infected FMD materials from neighboring countries to avoid further animal disease outbreaks in our country,” Schlettwein adds.