FMD outbreak no ploy - !Naruseb

The minister of agriculture has refuted an allegation by the Namibia National Farmers Union that the government had fabricated evidence of a foot-and-mouth outbreak.

31 July 2018 | Agriculture

Agriculture minister Alpheus !Naruseb says the 2015 foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak was no ploy, as alleged by the Namibia National Farmers Union (NNFU).

In an interview with Namibian Sun recently, NNFU president Jason Emvula said the union had conducted an investigation in both Namibia and Angola to find out where the lone buffalo that was spotted at the Okongo crush pen on 12 May 2015 came from.

Emvula said nobody said they saw the animal, which made them suspect there had in fact been no stray buffalo.

!Naruseb refuted this allegation, based on records in the ministry's possession.

He said buffaloes were sighted by the community and then traced and shot by the environment ministry.

He, however, could not say where exactly these buffaloes had come from.

“Normally buffaloes are sighted by community members and reported to the directorate of veterinary services (DVS) and the environment ministry, who start tracking and eventually shoot them once they are found; then samples are collected for laboratory analysis to test for FMD.

“It is clear from the records that several buffaloes were present in the NCA around the time of the outbreak and it is therefore not correct for the NNFU to conclude that there were no buffaloes sighted in the NCA,” !Naruseb said.

He said buffaloes are free-roaming wild animals and will move across borders, especially where there are no fences.

He said recognition, diagnosis and the control of FMD requires professional veterinary experts, who carry out scientific analysis that leads to the declaration and handling of an FMD outbreak.

!Naruseb added that due to the lack of a fence between Namibia and Angola, it is highly possible that buffaloes can move freely between northern Namibia and southern Angola.

He said the Angolan authorities had admitted that buffaloes were present on the eastern side of the Cuando River and could possibly stray into Namibia.

“The first reports of salivating and limping cattle were received from farmers at Ondamayomunghete in the Okongo constituency of the Ohangwena Region. On 11 May 2015, the veterinary officials went to do the investigation and collected the samples, which were dispatched to the central veterinary laboratory (CVL) for analysis.

“The first positive laboratory results were received from the CVL, the Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute (OVI) in South Africa and the Botswana Vaccine Institute (BVI) from 12 to 15 May 2015.

“An outbreak of FMD was then declared based on those results, because according to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) terrestrial code, an outbreak is constituted by a case or more based on clinical signs and the presence of viral antigens,” !Naruseb said.

He further explained that subsequent outbreaks were detected on 12 May 2015 at the Okalupalona and Onehanga crush pens in the Okongo constituency of Ohangwena and then on 13 May 2015 at the Egolo crush pen at Okakango village in the Okankolo constituency of Oshikoto, while the last case of FMD was detected in the Etayi constituency on 22 July 2015 in the Omusati Region, which is also in a protection zone.

He said the outbreak was resolved by January 2016.

“In recognition of the 40 years of uninterrupted FMD freedom in the NCA, Namibia submitted a strategy for eventual recognition of its FMD-free status by the OIE. However, during the endorsement of this strategy document, which is an official FMD control programme, an outbreak occurred on 11 May 2015 at Ondamayomunghete.

“We are continuing with the implementation of the official control programme for FMD, which entails the construction of the Namibia-Angola border fence and intensive disease surveillance. It is very difficult to ascertain the origin of any buffalo without an identification mark on it, therefore any sighting of buffaloes is treated as a potential risk for FMD viral infection and eventually an FMD outbreak, until proven otherwise,” !Naruseb added.



ILENI NANDJATO

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