Foot and Mouth disease outbreak in Chikwawa 

In the efforts to contain the outbreak of Foot and Mouth disease reported on July 21 in Chikwawa Shire Valley ADD, over 25,000 cattle out of about 39,000 affected animals have already been vaccinated.

Ministry of Agriculture’s public relations officer, Gracian Lungu says this represents 65% vaccination rate and animal health experts are still on the ground with the exercise as well as to identify if more areas were affected.

A statement from the Secretary for Agriculture, Sandram Maweru issued on August 1 said the disease was first clinically reported at Jombo, Chaonanjiwa and Mnthumba dip tanks and preliminary investigation conducted by veterinary officials had then reported 49 clinical cases out of the affected 13 kraals.

Dangerous disease that can be passed on to humans

He had said then that over 3,000 cattle were at immediate risk within the affected and the immediate surrounding areas and detailed investigations were still on-going to establish the magnitude of spread and map the extent of the problem.

“Foot and Mouth disease is a highly contagious viral disease that mostly affects cattle and has very devastating socio-economic consequences if not timely controlled,” Maweru said.

In conformity with the Control and Animal Diseases Act (Cap 66:02), and the World Organization for Animal Health guidelines, Maweru assured the public that the Ministry had with immediate effect preventive measures that included:

* Temporary suspension of all livestock (cattle, goats, sheep and pigs) markets;

* Temporary ban of all livestock (cattle, goats, sheep and pigs) slaughters;

* Restriction of livestock and livestock products movement;

*Temporary ban on issuance of livestock permits;

* Vaccination of cattle at the high risk areas surrounding the infected foci; and

* Sensitisation of the communities on the disease.

The Ministry is also conducting active surveillance in cattle, goats, sheep and pigs in and around the affected areas to ensure early detection and response for timely containment of the disease.

“The Ministry is, therefore, urging the livestock farmers and the general public to cooperate with its officials and security agents during the implementation of these measures.

For more information and clarification, the public is encouraged to contact Dr. Patrick Chikungwa, Director of Animal Health and Livestock Development at 0888371509 or Dr. Gilson Njunga, Deputy Director for Animal Health (Field Services ) at 0995910460.

The ban on the livestock movement in the past three weeks has greatly affected small scale butchery businesses, as attested by Patrick Kalimbuka, who manages Prime Butchery, whose main supplier is based in the Shire Valley ADD.

“We have been affected heavily for the past 3 weeks,” he said. “Our main product is beef but we have had no sales for whole of the ban but yet we still have to pay salaries to our workers, rent, overheads and service our loans.

“We also supply to small scale businesses like restaurant owners. It means these people are not doing good business as of now. Beef is currently the cheapest ndiwo and source of proteins to the citizens,” he said.

Interesting, beef price is lower per kg than that for goat meat and chicken in most markets in the urban areas, prompting consumers to opt mostly on beef or pork — thus Kalimbuka emphasizing that the public is “being denied their important source of proteins”.

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