The dreaded Foot and mouth disease has been detected in the southern Mozambican province of Gaza, reports Thursday’s issue of the Maputo daily “Noticias”.
The outbreak of the livestock disease was notified 26 March in herds at Nhamavil a and Manjacaze. The provincial authorities decided to slaughter and incinerate 45 head of cattle found to be infected.
They also launched an emergency vaccination campaign to cover about 14,000 anima ls in the contaminated and surrounding areas, and ordered restrictions on cattle movements until the area is declared free of the disease, as a measure to prevent the spread of the disease.
The animals found to be infected had come from the western province of Tete. They had been brought to Nhamavila and Manjacaze by an NGO to be distributed among those communities to promote cattle raising.
The livestock authorities have also ordered restrictions on the movement of cattle in Tete while they try to locate the main focus of the disease.
The head of the Gaza Provincial Livestock Services, Sara Macie, told “Noticias” that the disease was diagnosed on the act of inspecting the animals before they were distributed to cattle farmers.
This, she said, suggested that inspection work was not properly undertaken in Tete before the cattle left that province.
“As soon as we confirmed the signs of foot and mouth disease, namely lesions on the mouth and the hooves, we immediately slaughtered the sick animals and restricted the movement of livestock in Nhamavila and Manjacaze, so that foot and mouth will not spread to areas believed to be still free of the disease”, she said.
A foot and mouth outbreak is a serious setback to Mozambique’s efforts to rebuild its livestock herd after it had been decimated during the war of destabilisation.
The latest statistics show that there are now about 1.6 million head of cattle in the country.
“Noticias” claims that the outbreak has serious consequences for public health. In fact, it is very rare indeed for humans to contract foot and mouth disease, and almost impossible to catch it by eating meat from an infected animal.
Animals are culled, not to protect human health, but to protect the economic value of the surviving cattle.
The policy is controversial since, although foot and mouth has a high mortality among juvenile animals, most adult cattle infected will recover. Panapress.