Zimbabwe: Tick-Borne Diseases Increase

6 January 2021

Farmers in Mashonaland West and Midlands provinces continue losing cattle due to tick-borne diseases.

Veterinary Provincial Director for Midlands province Dr Martin Sibanda confirmed the deaths of cattle in huge numders and said the most affected provinces are Mashonaland West and Midlands.

"Many provinces have been affected by tick-borne diseases, particularly Theileriosis, better known as January disease, red water, heart water and gall sickness. Mashonaland West has reported massive cattle deaths due to tick-borne diseases during the year 2019 to date, and outbreaks seem to be continuing.

About 63 percent of cattle from Mashonaland West province were affected by red water. Clinical signs of the disease usually begin around two weeks after infection.

"Theileriosis, which is usually expected during the months of January and February, has been reported throughout the year last year to date." Dr Sibanda attributed the main cause of tick-borne diseases to failure by the Department of Veterinary Services to adhere to the dipping calendar.

"The result has been failure to control tick populations in both communal and resettlement areas. Farmers have not been adhering to dipping regulations. In all areas, farmers are advised to dip their cattle weekly and to report sick cattle and cattle deaths to the Department of Veterinary Services.

"Clinical examinations and post-mortems will help establish which disease is at play and to recommend appropriate treatment.

Dipping is the most and only effective way of managing the disease . Last year we had inadequate dipping cycles due to the shortage of chemicals despite the farmers paying their dipping levies. The shortage is attributed to the lack of foreign currency to purchase dipping chemicals. The country is losing more cattle each and every day", Dr Sibanda said.

Illegal cattle movement does play an important role in the spread of tick-borne diseases," Dr Sibanda said.

The United Nations through Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) with support of the Japanese Embassy in Zimbabwe is working with Government to implement a US$300 000 emergency response project focusing on human wildlife conflicts in Hurungwe district in Mashonaland West province.

The programme is supporting the Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services to offer training to animal health extension workers to enhance knowledge of diseases, improve veterinary surveillance systems and disease reporting systems amongst veterinary services personnel in Hurungwe district.

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