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Theileriosis kills hundreds of cattle in Matabeleland South

by Staff reporter
01 Feb 2023 at 07:41hrs | Views
A widow and farmer Mrs Thulani Mpofu is left with only an empty kraal and cattle bells after Theileriosis, which has claimed hundreds of cattle in Insiza District, Matabeleland South Province, and the Midlands Province wiped out all her 50 cattle.

Theileriosis, commonly known as January disease, has claimed over 200 cattle in and around PBS Farm in Insiza District since the beginning of the year.

 Government has dispatched dipping chemicals and tick grease to contain the disease that has also hit parts of the Midlands where farmers have lost 130 cattle.

Mr Nkani Khoza with some of the medication he bought to save his remaining cattle. Farmers have resorted to experiment with a variety of medicines to contain the disease

The Department of Veterinary Services is now battling to contain the disease to stop it from spreading to more areas and districts.

Quarantine rules have been laid down.

By law, when farmers suspect the presence of January disease in their area, they are compelled to make a report to the Department of Veterinary Services.

Addressing villagers from Mangwe Village, Ward 18 in Insiza District on Monday Matabeleland South provincial veterinary director, Dr Enat Mdlongwa said Government will ensure that farmers in affected areas have adequate access to acaricide and tick grease, medicines that are necessary to protect their cattle.

A quarantine has also been effected in affected areas. Cattle are destroyed for going beyond the quarantined areas.

Every farmer must also ensure that his or her livestock spend the night in the kraal.

 "The order I am giving you is that no cattle will be allowed to sleep outside the kraal. This will be in a bid to prevent the spread of Theileriosis. We will also be issuing  tick grease in this area. Government has said instead of people getting 1kg you will be receiving 4kg so that when animals are coming from dipping then the tick grease can be applied," said Dr Mdlongwa.

"We are also going to be distributing massive deadline pour on, in these area. We will also ensure that there is controlled movement of cattle from this area. This area is now under quarantine. We will also be coming here more frequently as part of the sensitisation programme. We have declared a war against this disease," he said.

Dr Mdlongwa said farmers in affected areas will now be expected to pay a dipping levy of US$2 and Government will provide acaricide.

He said farmers will now leave the sustainable acaricide supply model where they were making contributions to buy their own acaricide from suppliers.

Dr Mdlongwa said his department will also start enforcing proper dipping regimes. He said checks will be made to ensure that cattle that come for dipping are registered in stock cards. He urged farmers to be transparent when dipping their animals by ensuring that all are brought in for dipping. He said if one animal remains behind then that nullifies the entire dipping exercise.

"If we pull against this Government programme then we will be left behind. Every animal from today onwards will be expected to be kraaled. Each farmer has to ensure that they check on their animals every morning in order to identify any outbreaks as early as possible," he added.

"There is need for early detection of disease and early initiation of treatment. If you identify the disease early it can be contained but if it's detected late an animal can die. For animals that have the disease make sure that you nurse them up until they recover.

Put the animal in a kraal and feed it. If we neglect our responsibility as farmers, then we will lose our animals."

Dr Mdlongwa urged farmers to quarantine affected animals and follow the suggested treatment regime. He called on traditional leaders to assist in enforcing the regulations. Dr Mdlongwa also urged farmers to report villagers that were not following regulations as they were putting other farmers at risk of losing their animals.

He said the January disease was once eradicated in this part of the country in 1953. Dr Mdlongwa said many dip tanks were built back them in order to fight the disease and now farmers were being negligent, taking the country back to that same problem.

PBS village head Mr Shadreck Shabangu said he will ensure that he gets a weekly register from the dip attendant in order to identify villagers that were complying with regulations.

"We have lost a number of cattle in the area and it's now time that we put our heads together as various stakeholders so that we can fight this disease. As traditional leaders we will do all in our effort to ensure that farmers comply with set guidelines," he said.

Mrs Mpofu, who lost all her 50 cattle, said when her livestock were affected, they just became docile.

"I am a widow and this is all I had left to survive on. Right now my pen is empty. I have nowhere to start. Even selling meat is useless because everyone here has meat," she said.

"All I have now to my name are several cowbells which are hung behind the door."

Mr Nkani Khoza, a farmer in the area who lost at least 21 beasts to the outbreak said the affected cows would either show signs of aggression towards one another or even to people.

"They stop feeding and drinking and even go blind," he said

Another villager, Mr Eden Ncube, said they were being impoverished due to the outbreak.

"We will soon be faced with hunger. We cannot milk our cows anymore because they are always dosed with medicines and tick dips. What are we going to consume if this thing is not contained," said Mr Ncube.

He said cattle buyers had found a base where they can buy cheap cattle for resale.

"A beast can go for as low as US$80 now because people are afraid of losing it completely. There are lots of trucks coming in and out of this area and we wonder who and how they are cleared yet there is an outbreak like this," said Mr Ncube, urging the government's intervention.

About 700 cattle succumbed to Theileriosis in Matabeleland South last year while about 200 animals died from black leg.

Source - The Chronicle
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