Zimbabwe suspends South African livestock imports after foot and mouth outbreak

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HARARE (Reuters) - Zimbabwe has suspended imports of livestock and meat from South Africa for the second time this year after an outbreak of foot and mouth in the north of the country, the agriculture ministry said on Friday.

In January, Zimbabwe joined Botswana and the Kingdom of eSwatini, formerly Swaziland, in suspending meat imports from South Africa while following the outbreak of the highly contagious foot and mouth disease.

The agriculture ministry said in a statement that it had been notified by South African veterinary services that the latest outbreak had been identified at a farm in Limpopo province, close to the border with Zimbabwe.

Importation of live cattle, goats, sheep and pigs and related products had been suspended as authorities seek to identify the virus strain and extent of the outbreak.

"The suspension of imports from South Africa is a precautionary measure designed to prevent the spread of the infection into Zimbabwe," the ministry said.

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Foot and mouth disease does not affect humans but poses a threat to cattle, goats and sheep.

Zimbabwe imports livestock from South Africa for breeding as well as meat products.

(Reporting by MacDonald Dzirutwe; editing by Jason Neely)

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