|6. November 2017
Foot, mouth disease hits Manicaland - due to vandalism and missing vaccines
Government has confirmed a foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak that has hit the southern parts of the eastern region where it is threatening approximately 70 000 herd of cattle.
The outbreak was first detected at Taguta Farm in Middle Sabi and 16 cattle were diagnosed with the virus. It has since spread to other lowveld areas such as Chipangayi, Tanganda, Kondo, Mutema, Chibuwe and Checheche along the Save Valley Conservancy.
Traditionally, FMD has been rife in the Matabeleland provinces but has, of late, been spreading to other regions such as Masvingo and Midlands.
Chipinge has since become vulnerable to FMD following the vandalism of the Save Valley Conservancy’s security fence, and stray buffaloes, which carry the virus, are now mixing with cattle.
The conservancy has an approximate population of 3 000 buffaloes and 300 are straying out of the park, t threatening the district herd with the menacing disease.
Fears are that the situation might spiral out of control as government has been caught flat footed due to lack of adequate vaccines.
Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Mechanisation and Irrigation Development (Livestock) Paddy Zhanda confirmed the emergence of FMD in Manicaland.
Zhanda indicated that government had not determined how many cattle had been affected, and has not provided adequate vaccination.
“Yes, I can confirm that there is an outbreak,” he told The Financial Gazette in a telephone interview.
“We have not been able to quantify the number (of affected cattle). But we know there is an outbreak and the disease is spreading. So an outbreak is an outbreak, the number doesn’t matter because when there is an outbreak, it’s just the same when it has affected 40 cattle or 100 cattle. The impact is the same, even if it was one cattle affected by the outbreak. It is just as serious as 1 000. It’s just a question of vaccinations. If we have vaccinations, we would move in and vaccinate the cattle but right now we do not have the vaccinations,” he said.
The Department of Veterinary Services declined to comment.
Chipinge district veterinary officer, Pikitayi Chanaiwa, referred questions to provincial veterinary officer, Charles Guri, who was said to be out of office.
Chipinge South legislator and farmer, Enock Porusingazi, appealed to relevant authorities to contain the situation, saying farmers were losing their cattle.
“It’s true we have a serious foot-and-mouth outbreak here. We have so many cattle dying but we have not been able to quantify how much have succumbed to the disease. But I can assure you that many farmers are losing their cattle. We have reached out to the veterinary department,” said Porusingazi.
He said affected areas included the Middle Sabi, Chibuwe, Kondo and Mutema. Village head Mutape Kondo said Chipangayi and Checheche were also affected.
Reports indicate that Botswana has donated 473 200 doses of vaccines to Zimbabwe to contain the FMD outbreak.
Government has also introduced FMD zone fences and clinical infection sites in Chipinge South, Chivi, Chiredzi and Mwenezi.
The FMD zones are differentiated by colours, with the white zone being FMD free, while the red one is considered infected.
The green zone is in between the two zones (red and white) and cattle in this zone are regularly inspected for FMD infections.
(Financial Gazette, Harare)