MBABANE (Reuters) – The Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly known as Swaziland, said on Tuesday it would partially lift a ban on some meat and dairy products from South Africa after its neighbor took steps to contain an outbreak of highly contagious foot and mouth disease.
The disease, which causes lesions and lameness in cattle and sheep, was detected in cattle in a northern part of South Africa’s Limpopo province, the agriculture department announced last week.
eSwatini, which is heavily reliant on South Africa for food, said it would resume issuing import permits for some less risky products like milk and processed meats on Wednesday.
“Once the country has been assured that some of these products come from disease-free areas, the ministry will resume issuance of import permits,” said Xolani Dlamini, director of veterinary services.
Live cloven-hoofed animals from areas not affected by foot and mouth will still have to undergo routine checks including being placed under quarantine, Dlamini said.
South Africa’s agriculture ministry said on Monday it had quarantined and vaccinated around 15,000 cattle in the affected area. It has started offering assurances for products which do not pose a risk of transmitting the disease, such as heat-treated meat and dairy products.
Mozambique and Zambia were the latest southern African countries to suspend livestock and meat imports from South Africa this week, joining eSwatini, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Namibia.
Foot and mouth does not affect humans but poses a threat to cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, goats and sheep.
Governed by Africa’s last absolute monarch, eSwatini is an impoverished, land-locked nation of 1.5 million people that borders South Africa and Mozambique.
(Reporting by Lunga Masuku, additional reporting by Manuel Mucari in Maputo and Chris Mfula in Lusaka; Writing by Tanisha Heiberg; Editing by Alexander Winning and Andrew Cawthorne)