Serotype-O FMD detected in Zambezi

A deadly strain of foot-and-mouth disease is believed to have spread to the Zambezi Region from Zambia.

15 September 2021 | Agriculture

KENYA KAMBOWE

RUNDU

At least 5 000 cattle in the Zambezi Region are reported to have contracted the serotype-O strain of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), which had never been reported in Namibia before and is said to be more deadly than other strains.

This was confirmed by the chief veterinary officer in the agriculture ministry, Dr Albertina Shilongo.

She said the ministry had tried to contain the FMD outbreak detected in Zambezi in June, and in the process identified the serotype-O FMD type.

Shilongo said it is believed that the serotype-O FMD had entered Namibia from Zambia through the illegal cross-border movement of livestock.

“We have detected a new FMD, serotype-O, which was never confirmed in Namibia before. We have done genotyping analysis and we found that serotype-O is associated with a type detected in Zambia. We suspect that the source of the infection is illegal cross-border movement of animals,” Shilongo said.

Vaccination

Shilongo said the ministry was waiting for the arrival of vaccine from Botswana.

“We are waiting for the serotype-O vaccine this week which is coming from the Botswana Vaccine Institute and as soon as the vaccine is here, our teams are ready to start with the vaccination,” she said.

Asked about the difference between the types of FMD, Shilongo said serotype-O is more deadly as it causes a lot of lesions in the mouths of cattle, which leads to starvation.

Shilongo said the illegal cross-border movement of livestock remains a challenge in terms of eliminating FMD.

“FMD will continue to be a challenge if the border remains open and people can cross wherever they want to, because they are not using the designated border points,” she explained.

“It remains a very big challenge for us and the threat will continue to come from those countries even if we contain and eliminate the virus on this side.”

With Zambezi severely hit by the outbreak, Shilongo said the ministry had taken the necessary steps to ensure that the disease does not spread to other regions.

The latest FMD outbreak reported in June came just after Namibia had lifted all movement restrictions on cloven-hoofed animals in the FMD Protection Zone in April.

FMD outbreaks have affected nine constituencies since last September.

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