Midlands cattle sales suspended after suspected foot and mouth outbreak

Midlands cattle sales suspended after suspected foot and mouth outbreak

GWERU, April 23 (The Source) – The veterinary services department in the Midlands has suspended cattle trade in parts of the province due to a suspected outbreak of foot and mouth disease, an official said on Thursday.

“We have resolved that we totally suspend all cattle movement and trading in cattle in light of the evidence presented to us,” the provincial veterinary officer, Thomas Sibanda told The Source on Thursday.

“This suspension will remain until we are sure that cattle from Zvishavane, Gweru and Mvuma, where there are suspected outbreaks of the disease, have been treated properly at every step of the supply chain.”

The affected districts, he said, were ‘Red Zone areas’ with high risk of occurrence of the disease. The same areas experienced an outbreak around the same time last year, he added.

Sibanda said the ban will be reviewed at the onset of the winter season with research showing that the foot and mouth bacteria thrive in hot weather conditions.

Zimbabwe has experienced regular outbreaks of the disease in recent times in cattle rich regions of Matabeleland and Midlands, which have adversely affected the industry as the country is an exporter of meat.

Zimbabwe suspended beef exports to the European Union and other countries in 2001 when the Cold Storage Company, at one time the largest meat processor in Africa, collapsed due to mismanagement and persistent outbreaks of foot and mouth disease.