More than 400 cows in northern KwaZulu-Natal have tested positive for a bacterial disease – transmittable to humans – that causes infertility, miscarriages or birth complications and weak joints.
In a statement on Monday, the KZN Department of Agriculture said this was the biggest outbreak in the last three years.
There have been 635 positive cases since 2018, of which 423 were recorded 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,” said Agriculture MEC Bongi Sithole-Moloi.
The disease is commonly spread to humans through the consumption of raw or unpasteurised dairy products.
Around 70% of the cases were as a result of communal dip tanks.
“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,” said Sithole-Moloi.
To help curb the spread, the department will be instituting a vaccination drive on calves aged between four and eight months in uMkhanyakude, King Cetshwayo, uThukela and uMzinyathi districts.