By SYLVESTER MWALE –
CLOSE to 5,000 head of cattle have been affected by foot and mouth disease this month in Chisamba and Chibombo districts of Central Province.
Movement of cattle in and out of the affected districts has been restricted as part of efforts to contain the disease.
Central Province Permanent Secretary Chanda Kabwe said yesterday that a task force consisting of representatives of various stakeholders, including livestock farmers, had been formed with the aim of addressing the problem.
“We have also mounted a number of checkpoints in the province to check and try to control the spread and the Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock has given us three motor vehicles to intensify the fight,” he said.
Mr Kabwe said the type of foot and mouth disease that had struck the province was unlike anything encountered before, but assured that the government had already procured a vaccine.
He assured livestock farmers in the two districts that the Government would bring the outbreak under control.
“The most important thing was to identify the type of the disease which has been done, and now from tomorrow (today) we are starting the vaccination exercise; we will also be conducting aerial survey using a plane to map the affected areas,” he said.
The Ministry of Fisheries and Livestock announced an outbreak of foot and mouth disease on farms in Chisamba and Chibombo districts before imposing restrictions on the movement of livestock in the area.
The disease has spread to, and been confirmed on, Zambeef’s Kalundu dairy farm in Chisamba which supplies 40 per cent of Zambeef’s raw milk requirements, and daily milk output has fallen sharply.
Livestock and Fisheries Minister Kampamba Mulenga said the disease was believed to have come from East Africa, according to ZNBC news monitored yesterday.
Ms Mulenga told the National Agriculture Information Services in a statement that the disease was suspected to have spread into northern Zambia through movement of cattle across the porous border areas.
Ms Mulenga said results showed that the serotype O that had caused the disease had not been isolated to buffaloes and that it was maintained and spread by cattle.
Ms Mulenga said this was the first time the serotype O had spread southwards into central Zambia.