Foot and Mouth Disease
By Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries

Wednesday, 20th March 2019



Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in South Africa (December 2018)


Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly contagious disease of cloven-hoofed animals (cattle, goats, sheep, pigs and various wildlife species), caused by foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV). In a susceptible population, morbidity usually approaches 100%, and the disease causes fever and blister-like sores in the mouth, between the hooves and on the teats. Affected adult animals rarely die, but they struggle to eat and move around and production losses (decreased growth and milk production) occur. Some animals may remain weak and debilitated after recovery, and young animals may die due to myocarditis. The occurrence of FMD has impacts on international trade and results in severe economic losses.

FMD in South Africa

African buffalo can act as carriers of the virus (i.e. they may be infected and spread the virus, without showing clinical symptoms). In South Africa, buffalo in the Kruger National Park (KNP) and surrounding game reserves are endemic carriers of FMDV. The KNP and surrounding game reserves, and two game reserves in northern KwaZulu-Natal are therefore officially classified as FMD Infected Zones. Immediately surrounding the Infected Zones, are designated FMD Protection Zones, which separate the Infected Zones from the rest of the country, which has an internationally recognised FMD free status and is known as the FMD Free Zone.


FMD Control in South Africa

Control measures in the FMD control areas (Infected Zone and Protection Zone) include movement restrictions and vaccination in the portion of the Protection Zone immediately adjacent to the Infected Zone. Only buffalo free of FMD may be kept in the FMD Free Zone. For more details on FMD control measures, refer to:

What to do if you suspect a case of FMD

If a suspicious case is identified, please notify the local State Veterinarian immediately. State Veterinarians should notify their Provinical Directors, who should notify the Director of Animal Health at the Department of Agriculture, Forrestry and Fisheries.

For confirmation of a clinically suspcious case, blood samples can be collected for serology, and lesion or probang samples can be collected for PCR.

For more information, including disinfection, symptoms, and the collection of samples for diagnosis, please refer to:

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