By Chrispin Inambao
Cattle farmers deprived of one of their main sources of income by the current ban on the sale of livestock following a devastating outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease, now face the deadly black-quarter disease.
Added to this is an outbreak of lumpy skin disease that causes lumps, which leave ugly scars on the skins of the infected cattle, affecting the quality of hides earmarked for sale.
Dr Frank Chitate, the State Veterinarian in Caprivi, as well as a group of villagers confirmed the twin outbreak that includes one bacterial disease that causes almost instant death.
Among the areas worst affected by black-quarter are: Mpyu village, Mazoba village and settlements around M’pacha, according to the veterinarian.
Villagers bury the carcasses of the affected cattle deep in the ground, while in some cases they stack them with wood and burn them to ashes. Chitate says the two methods of disposal prevent further infections.
He says symptoms of the deadly black-quarter disease include swollen legs and black or grey spots on the carcasses. Air bubbles caused by bacteria can also be seen. The carcasses are usually pale and not red and there is also rapid decay.
Villagers, aware of the dangers posed by eating meat from animals that drop dead in the field, are not taking any chances.
They promptly get rid of the carcasses.
He said the animals die a day after symptoms are detected. According to Chitate, the only effective way to prevent black-quarter is to vaccinate all cattle, at least once a year, with black-quarter vaccine.
The disease is hard to contain once livestock are infected.
He said the bacteria usually poison the infected cattle causing black spots hence the name of this deadly disease.
Mpyu headman, Bornventure Sameho Mulongwe, told New Era that his kraal is among many where black-quarter has been detected. Recently, he says, the disease killed four of his Brahmans – a highly priced bull and three expectant cows.
Mulongwe said Nanzovu village also lost several cattle to black-quarter.
Chitate said black-quarter infects cattle while grazing as they pick bacteria from the soil. Recent good rains have made the conditions suitable for the transmission of the disease.
On lumpy skin disease, Chitate said this is a seasonal viral disease that occurs mainly during the rainy season. Insects such as biting flies transmit it in the manner female anopheles mosquitoes transmit malaria.
Every constituency in Caprivi is affected by lumpy skin disease, but Chitate again advised communal farmers in the region to buy lumpy skin disease vaccine and request his office to vaccinate their animals because most of them do not know how to vaccinate animals.
Concerning the ban and restrictions on livestock movements in the eastern Caprivi owing to the foot-and-mouth outbreak since November last year, he said his office continues to monitor the situation.