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SA MEAT, ANIMAL IMPORTS SUSPENDED

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MBABANE – Suspended till further notice! Government, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has suspended the importation of all cloven hoofed animals and products from neighbouring South Africa (SA).


In a press statement issued by the ministry yesterday, it was stated that the decision was taken following reports that surfaced on November 6, 2019 to the effect that the Republic of South Africa had reported to the World Organisation of Animal Health (OIE) an outbreak of foot and mouth disease (FMD) in Molemole in the Limpopo Province.
Molemole is situated in the suspended FMD free zone outside the traditional control areas of the disease.


Outbreak


This outbreak follows one that was reported in January 2019 in the Vhembe District. It was stated that the January outbreak resulted in the OIE suspending the formerly recognised ‘foot and mouth disease-free zone where vaccination is not practised’.
This was also the zone from which SA trades internationally in animals and products of animal origin.


“In response to this reported outbreak in the RSA, government has found it necessary to suspend the importation of all cloven hoofed animals and products in order to protect Eswatini from possible importation of infected animals or products as well as to allow RSA to conclude any investigations and implementation of control measures,” reads part of the statement.


The ministry mentioned that while the Department of Veterinary and Livestock Services stands ready to advise and guide on the implementation of prevention measures, there were precautions that importers had to note.


One of them, according to the statement was that the issuing of import permits for cloven- hoofed animals, including domestic animals (cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, etc.) and wildlife (antelopes, wildebeest, etc.) was suspended with immediate effect.
“Import permits already issued must be immediately returned to the Veterinary Department,” it was mentioned.


Another precaution stated in the statement was that straying and or repatriation of stray cloven-hoofed animals was strictly prohibited.
“Issuing of import permits for raw food of cloven-hoofed animals is suspended with immediate effect until further notice. Government will continue to monitor the situation and modify the prevention measures accordingly.


“Foot and mouth disease is a major trade barrier wherever it occurs. The virus spreads easily and very fast. It is important to maintain our vigilance against this disease,” it was emphasised. Efforts to get a comment from the Farmers Union were not successful as its president, Absalom Lukhele could not be reached on his mobile phone  yesterday.


The last call was made at 7pm.
It is not the first for the Kingdom of Eswatini to issue such a ban as the same was witnessed in January this year when some meat and dairy products from South Africa were suspended after the neighbouring country reported an outbreak of the highly contagious foot and mouth disease.


The disease, which causes lesions and lameness in cattle and sheep, was detected in cattle in a northern part of SA’s Limpopo province.
In June this year, an almost similar incident was witnessed as the Kingdom of Eswatini banned imports of live pigs from countries that had tested positive for African swine fever (ASF) in SA.


During that time, it was announced that the movement of pigs between farms was to be strictly controlled.
It was stated that the disease was highly contagious and fatal among pigs and that there was no vaccine against it.
However, it was highlighted that it did not affect humans but the Veterinary Office emphasised that it was to introduce a system to identify and track pigs.
Another incident was witnessed in March 2018 when a ban on imported meats, which was prompted by an outbreak of listeriosis in neighbouring South Africa, was announced in the country.


Transmission


At the time, it was announced that after the listeriosis outbreak in SA, the country took a decision to suspend the importation of ready-to-eat meat and meat products because of the fear of disease transmission.
The ban was eventually lifted in June in the same year after government had satisfied itself that three months was enough time for the South African Government to conclude its investigations on the affected areas and sources and also come out with a lasting solution.


Before the ban was lifted, major outlets in the country were not selling imported processed meats.
This was despite the fact that no cases of listeriosis were discovered in the country, despite the disease having claimed the lives of over 300 people in SA.

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