Kenya: Vets Identify Disease Killing Livestock in Tharaka Villages

Livestock farmers in Tharaka have been asked to spray cows with acaricides to eliminate ticks transmitting East Coast Fever, which has killed more than 50 cows in the last month.

Tharaka Nithi County Agriculture Executive Njagi Njue, on Monday asked farmers to also spray the grazing fields and where possible practice zero-grazing.

"We have established that the disease that is killing cows in Turima area is East Coast Fever, which is transmitted by ticks," said Mr Njue.

He said protozoa infection is usually common during the rainy season when the population of ticks is very high in the bushes.

Infected animals experience soft cough due to fluid in lungs, difficulty in breathing, diarrhoea sometimes blood-tinged, muscle wasting and white discolouration of the eyes and gums.

If not treated, animals can die within three to four weeks of the infective tick bite.

The disease can be treated by administering the infected animal with the right drug, which is more effective if treated early.

Right pesticides

The disease is said to have started with the onset of the ongoing rainfall in Kiagu area and has spread to various parts of Turima Division killing more than 50 cows so far.

Farmers have asked the county government to provide them with the right pesticides to clear the vectors and drugs to treat the already affected cows.

Mr Kanyamba Mucee, one of the farmers from Kiagu area, said he has lost two cows to the disease.

"Our neighbour lost one cow and in about a week the disease had spread to three other homesteads including our home where it killed two cows," said Mr Mucee.

He said the farmers are administering the sick cows with various drugs, hoping that it's one of the common diseases mostly experienced during the onset of rains, without success.

Mr Gitonga Machauru, another farmer from Kathuura area who lost one cow last week said some more than 10 years back, a similar disease cleared all the livestock in the village.

He said some of the symptoms are similar to those of anthrax. "We disposed off the carcass in the bush for the dogs to eat but an unknown person came and carried part of it," said Mr Machauru.

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