The Veterinary Services Department this Saturday gunned down a herd of 12 cattle after crossing a foot and mouth red zone from Gokwe North to Sanyati.
The killing of the cattle follows the issuing of a destruction order in accordance with the law as a way of preventing the spread of foot and mouth disease in the area.
The cattle had crossed into Sanyati from Gokwe North, designated as a foot and mouth red zone, an area dominated by buffaloes.
Mashonaland West provincial veterinary services director, Dr Thokozani Mswela confirmed the development, saying the move was necessitated by the need to control the spread of the contagious foot and mouth disease.
In an interview with Pindula News, a veterinary official who spoke on condition of anonymity as he does not have authority to comment on the matter said the owners of the cattle drove them from Gokwe to Sanyati without the required documentation.
He added that when they realised that they had been seen, they drove the cattle back to Hokwe North prompting Vet officials to pursue and kill the livestock. He explained what red zones are:
FMD (Foot and Mouth Disease) red zones are areas adjacent to national parks. In national parks, there are buffalos which happen to be reservoirs of the virus. There is Chirisa National Park in Gokwe North so there is a possibility that cattle in that area are interacting with buffaloes. Therefore, allowing them to move to other parts of the country increase chances of having the FMD spreading. It’s possible that the cattle killed did not have the FMD but without vetting we could not know that’s why they were killed.
He added that the symptoms of foot and mouths are wounds on the mouth and hooves. The official added that it is rare for grownup livestock to die and they usually heal within two weeks.
The disease, however, affects farmers that use the livestock for draught power and at the national level, the country loses export markets as beef consumers often blacklist beef from countries that have outbreaks of the FMD.
He urged farmers to contact Veterinary officers within 24 hours of noticing the symptoms. The vet officers will then put that area under quarantine to curb the spread of the FMD. Usually, they inject cattle within the ten or twenty-kilometre radius with a vaccine for the prevention of FMD.