Namibia: New Fmd Strain Detected in Zambezi Region

A NEW foot-and-mouth disease serotype O has been detected in the Kabbe North constituency of Zambezi region, the Ministry of Agriculture, Water and Land Reform has revealed.

A foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) outbreak was first reported on 3 June 2021 in the Kasenu village in the Kabbe South constituency, resulting in the area within 30 kilometre radius being declared an infected area.

Despite all the control measures in place, the disease has since spread to three other constituencies, namely Kabbe North, Katima Rural and Kongola.

In a statement issued on Friday, the chief veterinary officer, Albertina Shilongo, noted that over 1 300 head of cattle at 18 crushpen villages are infected, with the latest FMD cases detected at Mafube crushpen area in Kabbe South.

“We have confirmed that the new strain of FMD, virus serotype O, was detected in samples collected from Kabbe North, causing the current outbreak in Zambezi region,” she said.

Shilongo added that this is the first time the FMD serotype O has been detected in Namibia. Previously, the only FMD virus strains identified in the country were serotypes SAT 1, 2 and 3.

“The high infection rate caused by the new FMD serotype O explains the poor response to the vaccination to this outbreak. Investigations to establish the source of the FMD serotype O are ongoing. However, it is suspected that there is illegal cross-border movement of cattle between Namibia’s Zambezi region and Zambia. Zambia reported outbreaks of FMD serotype O in 2019 and 2020 to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE),” she said.

Shilongo further alluded that FMD serotype O manifests itself the same way as the SAT serotypes, except that serotype O causes more severe mouth lesions, and it not only affects cattle but sheep and goats as well, unlike the SAT serotypes to which sheep and goats are less susceptible.

“Emergency vaccination of cattle against the new FMD serotype O will commence in the next three weeks once the vaccine is available,” she said.

According to Shilongo, Zambezi region is declared a disease management area (DMA), and control measures such as the ban in the movement of all cloven-hoofed animals and potentially infectious commodities out, in and through the DMA will remain in place until the situation normalises.