10 July 2018

Zimbabwe: Govt Intensifies Control of Tick-Borne Diseases

The Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) has heightened disease control measures to curb the spread of tick-borne diseases amid reports that the country has already lost over 3 400 cattle.

Zimbabwe has lost 3 430 cattle to tick-borne diseases from November 2017 to May 2018, with Mashonaland East recording the highest deaths.

According to the DVS, farmers are losing cattle to theileriosis, popularly known a January disease, babesiosis, heartwater, anaplasmosis and sweating sickness.

The department has also warned farmers not to panic and sell their cattle at giveaway prices as the tick-borne diseases could be cured if treatment is administered early.

DVS director Dr Josphat Nyika yesterday said the department was carrying out awareness campaigns to stop the illegal movement of cattle as this was the major cause for the spread of tick-borne diseases.

He urged members of the public not to sell diseased animals or consume meat from sick animals as this pose a health hazard.

"We have a wave of tick-borne disease, especially theileriosis, commonly known as January disease.

"January disease has extended its range as it normally affects from November to March.

Theileriosis is high in January when the rainfall activity will be high hence the name January disease.

"The disease was reported at 158 dip tanks and the disease is more prevalent in Wedza, Chikomba, Mhondoro-Ngezi, Buhera and Goromonzi," he said.

Dr Nyika said the best way to control tick-borne diseases was to dip cattle.

He said there were some challenges in dipping cattle because of a combination of factors.

"The tick-infested animals should also not be allowed to be moved to other areas.

"This is governed by Statutory Instrument 280 of 1984.

"The SI prohibits the movement of sick animals, so those moving the animals for slaughter and reselling are contravening the SI under the Animal Health (Act) Chapter 19:01," he said.

Dr Nyika said slaughter of animals for human consumption was governed by the Public Health Act SI 50 of 1995 regarding abattoir registration, lawful slaughter and meat hygiene.

"Under these regulations, no persons shall sell, keep, transport or expose for sale any meat or offals unless that meat has been obtained from healthy animals that have been slaughtered in a registered slaughter house and that meat has been inspected by meat inspector and passed as unconditionally fit for human consumption," he said.

He said people contravening SI 50 of 1995 were liable to prosecution because they will be exposing people to health hazards.

He said it was also an offence for a farmer to have a tick-infested animal.

"Farmers should dip their animals regularly ,and not skip dipping.

"They should also use tick grease in the ear, under the tail and tail brush," he said.

"On the ground we have increased awareness campaigns to contain tick-borne diseases, particularly January disease.

" Our dipping has not been up to scratch before because ingredients for dip chemicals were not accessible and companies that import the chemicals were also facing foreign currency shortages," he said

Farmers have also complained of counterfeit dipping chemicals on the market.

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