There has been an outbreak of Brucella-Bacteria in KZN. Photo: Pixabay

KwaZulu-Natal Department of Agriculture and Rural Development says it is launching a cattle vaccination drive to contain a “sinister” outbreak of Brucella Bacteria… which causes abortions and infertility in livestock and people.

“KwaZulu-Natal is experiencing a sinister outbreak of an animal-borne bacterial disease causing abortion, infertility, reduced milk production and weak joints in both livestock and humans following more than 400 cows tested positive in the northern part of the province, this year,” the department said in a statement.

There were 73 cases in 2018, 139 in 2019 and 423 this year.

“This year’s high number of the infectious spread of Brucellosis threatens to trigger great reproductive health, nutrition and economic failures for the majority of rural animal holders and consumers of raw meat or fresh milk from infected dairy cows, goats and sheep, province-wide.”

DA KZN Spokesperson on Agriculture and Rural Development, Chris Pappas, says the brucellosis outbreak raises questions around biosecurity in KZN, and the frequency of threats. “The outbreak follows a number of other serious biosecurity risks within the province including Fall Armyworm, Rabies and Anthrax,” said Pappas.

“Given that many rural communities rely on livestock as a source of food and income, the spread of the Brucellosis disease would be devastating for our province both economically and for health-related reasons.”

According to the KZN DARD Veterinary Services’ investigators’ report, 70% of the cases are from the communal dip tanks in the north of the province where there is generally poor compliance with brucellosis vaccination and testing.

A cattle vaccination drive is being launched to contain the Brucella-Bacteria outbreak in KZN.
A cattle vaccination drive is being launched to contain the Brucella-Bacteria outbreak in KZN.

The increase in the north is attributed to few private veterinarians, lack of resources to contain the disease, lack of compliance from livestock owners as well as proximity to countries like Mozambique and Swaziland, which have porous border security.

Therefore, as part of the bovine brucellosis control in cattle, DARD is initiating a vaccination drive for calves aged of 4-8 months, which will be implemented in all dip tanks found in uMkhanyakude, King Cetshwayo, uThukela and uMzinyathi districts, said the department.

The vaccination drive will be led by MEC for Agriculture and Rural Development Bongi Sithole-Moloi.