South Africa's foot and mouth disease-free status reinstated

Milk South Africa

On 18 February 2014, Edith Vries, Director-general of the Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, said the country’s three year long suspension of being a zone free of the disease had been lifted and South Africa’s foot and mouth disease-free status reinstated.

The World Organisation for Animal Health (OiE) in Paris had visited South Africa after the outbreak and laid down the steps the agriculture department would have to take to regain its foot and mouth disease-free status. The OiE wrote to Dr Michael Modisane, Chief Director: Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries to say it had considered the department’s report on corrective measures that had been implemented. The OiE’s scientific commission had concluded that South Africa now complied with the Terrestrial Animal Health Code. 

The dairy industry is pleased to note that South Africa now again complies with the relevant IOE codes. Although the industry was not severely affected by the situation (heat treated products could still be exported during the ban), the image of the livestock industry sector suffered, especially as it raised questions regarding the effectiveness of the application of control measures. 

We are thankful to Dr Michael Modisane and his personnel for his dedicated assistance in the process of having the ban successfully lifted. We all came through a very difficult time, and communication between livestock industries and DAFF has definitely improved.

After the ban was imposed in 2011, Milk South Africa and other livestock institutions revived the National Animal Health Forum with a view to promoting cooperation between the livestock industries and the State Veterinary Services; to promote acceptable national animal health standards and the application thereof, and to facilitate the establishment and management of a national animal health communication system. 

Furthermore, Milk South Africa has recently commenced with its National Disease Monitoring and Extension System Project, which will continuously inform the dairy industry about the disease status in the country and it promises to make a huge contribution to the health status of the industry.