Namibia has suspended meat imports from South Africa due to the outbreak of the highly-contagious foot and mouth disease.

South Africa’s Agriculture Department says the disease, which causes lesions and lameness in cattle, sheep and pigs, was detected in Sundani village in the Vhembe District Municipality in Limpopo last year.

Chief veterinary officer Dr Botlhe Modisane says South Africa has lost its foot and mouth disease-free zone status.

“Losing status for foot and mouth disease zone freedom, we had to notify our trading partners, the international community of the disease until we have determined the extent of the spread. We are not able to export. It is such a big crises because we now have to stop all exports of cloven hooves, animals probably and their products.”

Residents of the village have expressed shock about the outbreak of the disease. They say it is the first time they’re experiencing it and have called on experts to urgently intervene.

“Foot and mouth disease is a life threatening disease to cattle. We have seen foot and mouth disease for the first time here in our village. It had never happened. We need veterinary officers to come and assist us so that our livestock survive. We are appealing to the department to intervene,  we need is to get vaccinations for this disease.”