The department of agriculture in the area has warned people not to eat meat from the dead animals.
Department veterinarians have been sent to various municipalities to monitor the situation. It was the Thembisile Hani municipality which suffered the most, with a very high number of animal deaths.
The agriculture department’s chief director for research and structural training, Stemmer Ndala, said his team had discovered tuberculosis (TB) and pneumonia in some of the cows.
“Lack of rain last summer had an impact on this as well.
“This year we had harsh winter spells coupled with cold hailstorms at times and this affected the cows,” said Ndala.
The farmers have been promised well grown grass which is a good energy booster. The grass will be given to the remaining cows in the area.
“We will conduct further tests and then decide on the next course of action,” said Ndala.
In the Kwaggafontein and KwaMhlanga areas, 29 cattle died and forming part of the 588 reported dead in the province.
Agriculture department spokesperson Bheki Nyathikazi said the cattle deaths were a source of concern to the provincial department.
He said farmers had realised that something was wrong with their animals.
“The cattle reportedly displayed nervous signs like tremors, ataxia and paresis, prior to death.
“Investigations are already underway and samples have since been collected from the dead animals to establish the exact cause of death,” said Nyathikazi.
He said his department was not yet sure of the exact number of deaths as this information was still being collated.
“We want to ensure proper disposal of carcasses to reduce environmental contamination and public health risk.”