South Africa suspends cattle movement to control foot and mouth disease

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The South African government has put a hold on all movement of cattle in the country except for slaughter due to an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, the agricultural ministry said on Tuesday.

The suspension will last 21 days and will then be reviewed on a weekly basis, the Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development, Thoko Didiza, said in a statement.

The movement of livestock from one property to another will not be allowed for any reason during this period, with the exception of their slaughter at registered abattoirs and for ritual purposes, Didiza said.

South Africa currently has 116 cases of foot and mouth disease. While the disease does not pose a threat to the human population, it is a highly contagious animal disease which affects cattle, sheep, goats and pigs.

The minister added that the ban is only applicable to cattle, but cautioned the public to be vigilant regarding other cloven-hoofed animals for signs of the disease.