High alert to prevent spread of FMD
High alert to prevent spread of FMD

Namibia on high alert to ward off FMD

Emergency panel to meet every two weeks
Namibia's eastern border with South Africa has been identified as an FMD hotspot and action is needed to repair the fence.
Ellanie Smit
The livestock industry is on high alert and taking all possible steps to prevent foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) from spreading from neighbouring countries across Namibia’s borders.

According to the Namibia Agricultural Union (NAU), an emergency committee has been set up consisting of key industry players and the Livestock Producers’ Organisation (LPO).

"It is important for the LPO to support the directorate of veterinary services (DVS) and the Meat Board of Namibia and to make sure that all biosecurity measures are properly applied."

The union said farmers close to risk areas are called upon to monitor whether all preventive actions are indeed being implemented by the responsible parties.

It said that the Meat Board will support the DVS with staff at all main border posts to disinfect vehicles and travellers and to ensure that banned products do not enter the country.

Assistance is also being provided at border posts by the Namibia Revenue Agency (NamRA) and the police.

Precautions

NAU said the eastern border between Namibia and South Africa has been identified as an FMD hotspot and action is needed to repair the fence.

"Producers farming next to this fence are requested to give the DVS access to carry out the inspections."

It also requested that livestock that grazes at the border be moved to other camps, to avoid contact with South African livestock.

The NAU further said that a FMD contingency plan has been in place for years.

"If FMD occurs in the FMD-free zone in Namibia, the protocol stipulates that if the outbreak is limited to two to three farms, all the animals on the relevant farms will immediately be culled so that we regain our FMD-free status as soon as possible."

Actions

The union said that the finer details surrounding the compensation to farmers affected by this have yet to be finalised.

“It is the LPO’s position that farmers must be assured of compensation in the event of the total culling of herds.”

However, the NAU said that if the outbreak extends over a wider area, culling will not be an option and animals will probably be vaccinated.

“This will affect our free status for a much longer period. It is therefore in everyone’s interest that an outbreak is stopped and reported as soon as possible.”

It said that if FMD occurs within Namibia, it is crucial that the entire industry works together and that everyone fulfils their responsibilities.

Inform staff

Farmers’ responsibilities include being on the lookout for the disease, reporting it without hesitation, and immediately stopping all movement of animals and people on the relevant establishment.

The Agricultural Employers' Association (AEA) further called on all producers to urgently discuss this matter with employees.

"It is important that the staff view photos and know what the symptoms are. Even before a physical inspection of the feet and mouth, an animal will show signs like limping and drooling. Emphasise the fact that the farm will lose income (and they too) if this disease enters the country and cannot be stopped. The faster the response, the better. As the symptoms partially present the same in rabies, a vet needs to be called immediately to verify the case(s)."

A more streamlined and smaller FMD emergency committee, under the leadership of the Meat Board and DVS, will henceforth meet every two weeks to discuss and oversee the immediate actions and preventive measures.

Meanwhile, the suspension of the exportation of live cattle from Namibia to South Africa has been lifted.

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Namibian Sun 2022-12-04

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