By Justin Brown

I-Net Bridge News Service

JOHANNESBURG (B)--The outbreak of foot and mouth disease at a Camperdown pig farm in the South African province of KwaZulu Natal is a localized event and is under control, says Dr. Steven Cornelius, deputy director general of Agricultural resources management at South Africa's National Department of Agriculture (NDA). National Director of Veterinary Services, Dr. Gideon Bruckner, told I-Net Bridge that no further outbreaks had been detected in the district.

"The outbreak is a very localized infection and we have implemented the correct control measures. There is likely to be no serious repercussions," Cornelius said.

Bruckner said the foot and mouth disease had been isolated on a farm called Springfield in the Camperdown district.

Bruckner said in total 649 pigs had been slaughtered, as a preventive measure, or died from foot and mouth disease at the farm in a country with a commercial pig population of 1.2 million pigs.

In addition to the pigs on the farm eight sheep and five cattle had been slaughtered.

"We have killed all the farm animals. The area within a 10-kilometer radius is under intensive quarantine," Bruckner said.

The outbreak is the first confirmed infection since 1956 in South Africa outside of the Kruger National Park.

The particular strain of foot and mouth disease has been identified as a Type O, which is usually found in the Middle East and East Asia, has never be isolated in South African before, Cornelius said.

He said the disease was confirmed by laboratory examination at South Africa's Onderstepoort Veterinary Institute on Sept. 15.

He added that the South African government had at that time also informed the Paris headquartered world organization for animal health, Office International des epizooties (OIE), of the outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Cornelius said control measures have been implemented in a 30-kilometer radius from the outbreak.

The control area consists of two control bands. There is a strict inner 10-kilometer radius band around the affected pig farm as well as an outer 20-kilometer band.

The people and animals within the inner band are being quarantined and their movement controlled, Cornelius said.

Roadblocks have been set up, with members of the South African Police Service and the South African National Defense Force in attendance, to strictly monitor movement to and from the Camperdown area.

Wind and weather patterns were also being analyzed to establish if there was sufficient humidity for the disease to spread through the air.

"We have health technicians in the neighboring farms monitoring the situation," Cornelius said.

In the outer 20-kilometer band people and animal are being kept under surveillance.

Cornelius said the initial view is that the virus could have come from swill, the main source of pigfood, bought in by a ship from the East docking in the Durban harbor.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a contagious animal disease. It is caused by a virus, which affects cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs, sheep, goats, and deer, often causing epidemics.

Foot-and-mouth disease is a menace to livestock producers and the meat-packing, dairy, leather, and wool industries.

Progress has been made toward developing an effective vaccine against foot-and-mouth disease, but the cost of vaccinating all susceptible animals would be prohibitive.

Consequently, the slaughter of all exposed animals is the only currently effective countermeasure to foot-and-mouth disease.

During the outbreak in the UK in 1967 and 1968, for example, more than 430,000 animals were slaughtered.

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