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Namibia suspends livestock imports from Botswana after animal disease scare

WINDHOEK, Aug 29 (Reuters) - Namibia on Monday announced the suspension of livestock imports and other related meat products from Botswana after its eastern neighbour announced last week that it is investigating a suspected outbreak of foot and mouth disease.

Suspected cases of the viral disease - which causes lesions and lameness in cattle, sheep and other cloven-hoofed animals but does not affect people - were detected in Botswana's North East district.

"Imports of all FMD susceptible animals, their raw products and other potential infectious materials such as straw, forage, lucerne and their livestock feed from Botswana has been suspended... until further notice," Namibia's agriculture ministry said in a statement released on Monday, adding the ban became effective on Aug. 25.

The in-transit movement of raw livestock products and livestock feed through Botswana intended for Namibia is however allowed provided that transporting vehicles are sealed, the ministry said.

Cattle exports are a key source of foreign currency for Namibia which is allowed to export beef to China, EU, and United States.

Earlier in the month, neighbouring South Africa reported over 100 cases of the disease and has put a hold on all movement of cattle in the country except for slaughter to contain the outbreak. (Reporting by Nyasha Nyaungwa; Editing by Bhargav Acharya and Sandra Maler)

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