Elita Chikwati, Harare Bureau
THE Government has secured 600 000 doses for Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and has also started re-erecting game fences at Gonarezhou separating susceptible animal population from wild buffalo to curb the spread of the disease.
Authorities have expressed concern over the continuous illegal movement of cattle.
Roadblocks have been introduced in affected areas to curb the practice.
FMD is the most contagious disease known to cattle. The disease is caused by a virus and is spread mainly through cattle to cattle transmission but in the Zimbabwean situation, it is spread by illegal animal movements.
FMD has a negative impact on the economy as it affects exports of beef and other related products. It can result in the country losing out on millions of dollars’ worth of export opportunities.
Department of Veterinary Services director, Dr Josphat Nyika yesterday confirmed that the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe had availed $1,2 million to procure the vaccines.
He said while Government had come up with measures to reduce the spread of the disease, farmers were being irresponsible by moving cattle without permits fuelling the spread of the diseases.
“The culprits are mostly speculators and unscrupulous business people who are buying cattle from areas where they are cheap for resale at higher prices in other areas. The cattle are moved without permits thereby spreading diseases particularly FMD.
“As the DVS we have regulations that prohibit movement of animals without permits. We shoot the illegally moved animals and prosecute the perpetrators,” he said.
Dr Nyika said Government recently secured 600 000 doses for vaccinations in the affected areas. “Our teams are on the ground in the provinces in the affected areas to prevent infection. We have stepped up enforcement against illegal cattle movements by mounting static road blocks and veterinary check points in the affected areas to combat illegal cattle movements.
He said this was an expensive exercise as there was need for vehicles, syringes and other things.
“The more permanent solution that is being taken by Government is fencing off national parks. Government has started re-erecting fences at Gonarezhou. This is the best way to manage FMD by separating susceptible animal population from wild buffalo.
“The contractor who won the tender is on the ground clearing and putting back the fences. The fences will be guarded. Once done, there will be maintenance costs,” he said.
He said the latest outbreak came from the North East Mozambique.
FMD is a notifiable disease.
Symptoms of FMD include excessive salivation, limping, presence of sores in the mouth and in between the toes.
Dr Nyika said FMD did not only affect beef exports but all other agricultural products like cotton and flowers through contaminated packaging and handling equipment.