Pastoralists in some areas where government had imposed quarantine on sale, transfer of cattle and cattle products with an intention of averting the Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) have a reason to smile, now that the ban has been lifted.
In April 2017, government through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries declared quarantine in districts of Gomba, Ssembabule and Lyantonde, and indefinitely closed cattle markets in the areas.
The districts largely depend on cattle trade and products for revenue and food respectively.
While addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre on Tuesday, the Minister of Agriculture, Vincent Ssempijja said the lifting of the restrictions is as a result of a confirmation of the absence of the disease in the areas.
“Today, Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries announces lifting of quarantine restrictions which were imposed on the following sub-committees due to the outbreak of foot and mouth disease, and are with immediate effect at liberty to participate in trade of animals and animal products,” he said.
The areas are Maddu and Kabulasoke Sub-counties in Gomba district, Kabula sub-county in Lyantonde district, Lugusuulu in Ssembabule district, Ruyonza and Ngabo sub-counties in Kyegegwa district.
But the Minister says farmers should observe the mandatory rules and regulations that govern the movement of animals and animal products in the country.
He says an investigation by the Ministry’s department of animal health indicated. that the samples picked from the affected farms and analysed in the National Animal Disease Diagnostics and Epidemiology Center (NADDEC) Entebbe tested negative for FMD.
He says agricultural administrators should support communities to embark on post-outbreak recovery programmes and also to mobilize and work with relevant stakeholders to prevent any future outbreaks.
The Minister has further encouraged livestock farmers to implement biosecurity measures on their farms to prevent entry and spread of the highly contagious disease.
On other districts which are still under quarantine restrictions, Ssempijja promised that review processes by the Ministry will continue, to enable resumption of business as soon as possible.
He encouraged them to continue complying with the animal movement restrictions and other disease control measures to limit the disease to a small geographical area.
Foot-and-mouth disease also referred to as hoof-and-mouth disease is an infectious and sometimes fatal
viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals. The virus causes a high fever for between two and six days, followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet that may rupture and cause lameness.
The FMD virus is transmitted through close-contact animal to animal spread, long-distance aerosol spread and fomites, or inanimate objects, typically fodder and motor vehicles.
The clothes and skin of animal handlers such as farmers, standing water, and uncooked food scraps and feed supplements containing infected animal products can harbour the virus as well.
Also, cows can also catch FMD from the semen of infected bulls.
Apart from quarantine and destruction of infected livestock, the spread of FMD can be controlled by imposing transport bans for meat and other animal products to areas not infected with the disease.