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50 head of cattle die from mysterious disease in one week

by Staff Reporte
15 Dec 2013 at 03:09hrs | Views
UP to eight families in BH3, Jambezi in Hwange, lost more than 50 head of cattle last week to a yet-to-be identified disease in the latest mass animal deaths in Matabeleland North.

Chief Shana of Jambezi confirmed the mass cattle deaths and said about eight households had been affected.

"At the moment we don't know what is killing the cattle; we are waiting for the veterinary people to come back to us. So far they have not identified the disease because they are still conducting tests. What I can tell you is that a lot of families, about eight of them, lost their cattle to the disease," said Chief Shana.

Villagers said veterinary officials, who came and took samples which they sent to veterinary laboratories in Hwange for tests, fear that the cattle were wiped out by an infectious disease whose exact cause remains unknown.

One of the owners of the cattle, Mr Sizwangendaba Ncube, made the grim discovery on Thursday and immediately alerted Chief Shana and the police who called the veterinary personnel.
In an interview, Mr Ncube's son, Alfa, said six cows died as a result of the unknown illness.

"We are now left with just two cows from eight. Six have died but we don't know what is killing them. Some of them just fell down and died but we had to slaughter the other cows which were very ill and had no chance of survival. We had to slaughter them because we feared that they were infected with a contagious disease which might spread to other cows.

"We are not the only family that has lost cows, a number of families also lost their cattle. I can't tell you the exact number but what I know is that a lot of people have lost their livestock. I know one woman who also lost six cows. I know her because we usually share grazing areas with her," Alfa said.

He revealed that the veterinary officials had advised them not to consume the dead animals as they might pose a danger to humans.

"They don't know what killed the cows so they told us not to take chances because the disease might also be fatal to humans," he said.

Matabeleland North provincial head of the Department of Veterinary Services, Dr Polex Moyo, said samples of the dead cows were still being tested.

"We are yet to find out what is killing the cows but I can tell you that we are conducting tests. After we find out what is killing the cattle we will obviously go there and try to eliminate the disease and save the lives of cows that could be infected. I would also like to take this opportunity to advise the people of Jambezi not to eat the meat of the dead cattle because it is not safe, it could put their lives in danger and we don't want that," said Dr Moyo.

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