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Government contemplates lifting ban on Foot and Mouth Disease

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By Bethsaida Msowoya:

AT RISK—Livestock

Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development Ministry has said it has embarked on a verification exercise to see if Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD), which attacked cattle in Mzimba, Chitipa, Kasungu and Mchinji, has been contained, before lifting a ban on slaughter and movement of livestock.

The government imposed the ban in March 2019.

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The ministry’s spokesperson, Hamilton Chimala, said they had vaccinated the targeted 80,000 herds of cattle in all the affected districts, marking the completion of the second round of vaccination against the disease.

“We are doing verifications on the ground to ascertain that we have, indeed, successfully contained the outbreak before lifting the ban because FMD is a very serious and dangerous viral disease,” he said.

Chimala said over 10,000 cases of FMD had been registered in the affected districts.

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In October 2018, 332 cases of FMD were recorded in Chitipa District while Mzimba registered 284 cases in February 2019.

Chimala said progress had been made to contain the FMD outbreak following stakeholders’ compliance with control measures and the ring vaccination around infected areas.

“This has reduced cases of new infections, thereby preventing its spread to non-infected areas,” he said.

The ban has seen most local butchers struggling to sustain their businesses in Mzuzu as they depend on mega shops to buy meat products.

Chimala said the government, through Veterinary Department, had put in place disease control measures such as strengthening disease surveillance for early detection, reporting and response.

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