Malawi government has temporarily suspended markets for all livestock and banned all slaughters of animals in Lilongwe following the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, which has sharply reduced meet supply in the capital city.
Minisry of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development official Gray Nyandule Phiri says in a statement released on Tuesday that the disease has been reported in Nyanja, Chitsime, Mkwinda, Chigonthi, Demera and Malingunde extension areas.
“Ongoing preliminary investigations conducted by the ministry have established a total number of 217 clinical cases,” says the statement.
Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious-viral disease that mistlt affects cattle.
Nyandule Phiri says 99 cases have been registered in sections of Nyanja, Chitsime and Mkwinda EPAs while 64 cases in four kholas within Chigonthi EPA and 54 cases in Thawale EPA in seven kholas.
“Fresh cases were also recorded from several kholas around Dickson in Malingunde EPA. The affected EPAs have an estimated total population of 45, 000 cattle currently at risk,” says Nyandule Phiri.
He says the government has issued a restriction order for the movement of livestock and livestock products from and in the affected areas, banned issuance of livestock movement permits from the affected areas, institute roadblocks and patrols at strategic points and intensified awareness of the livestock community on the outbreak.
Though there is no known human form of the disease, experts said foot-and-mouth could be debilitating not only to the beef and diary industry, but also to crops.
Malawi’s tea, coffee and tobacco may not be accepted on the world market if the disease is allowed to affect them.
All animals affected by the disease cannot produce milk while work oxen cannot perform because of sore joints and feet, according to veterinary sources.