By Charles Tjatindi
The movement of small stock in and out of the Otjimbingwe reserve has been restricted following an outbreak of a skin disease among goats and sheep.
The outbreak of mange, a disease that mainly affects goats, has been confirmed by the animal health technician responsible for the area, Mutonga Simasiku.
To date, eight animals have died from the mange outbreak, while a lot more are suspected to be infected with the skin disease.
The disease was discovered a few weeks ago, when farmers at the Okaruze reserve, some 10km east of Otjimbingwe, reported the death of their animals following suspected signs of mange.
Follow-up investigations from the district’s animal health technician confirmed the presence of the disease.
“An animal infected with mange would scratch all over the body, and would eventually start losing hair or wool. The animal will also start losing weight, as it develops a lack of appetite,” explained Simasiku.
Simasiku said the disease infects the animal from the ears, causing the skin around them to become red and crispy. An animal infected with mange would also experience low milk production.
Mange is highly contagious, and although it initially affects goats, it can also spread to sheep – hence the ban on all small stock movements.
The disease is mainly caused by parasites and can easily spread to another animal when it comes into contact with a pole or place against which an infected animal has been scratching itself.
“This is highly infectious and can spread very fast to the rest of your kraal if nothing is done to prevent it. That is why we had to place the restriction to minimise the loss of more animals to the disease. Sometimes the symptoms of mange are not visible, although the animal is infected … we couldn’t afford the chance,” noted Simasiku.
The restriction implies that no auctioning of small stock or any other form of trading of small stock will be done within, or out of, the region. Although concerned about the health of their animals, farmers in the area expressed concern over the ban, as they may be unable to get income from their animals.
“We depend on our animals to do almost anything. Now tell me, where should we get money from if our only source of income is not there? The situation is understandable, but it does not take away the fact that we will be without an income for the time being,” remarked Theo Kaurimuje, a farmer in the Otjimbingwe area.
Simasiku in turn appealed to farmers in the area to vaccinate their animals regularly to avoid such cases. He noted that the earlier farmers confine themselves to the vaccination stipulations as set by the office of the veterinarian in the area, the sooner they would be able to sell their animals again.
He also made an urgent appeal to farmers to report any further outbreak of the disease to avert new infections.
When asked if the meat of an infected animal is healthy for human consumption, Simasiku noted that under normal circumstances, it is healthy to consume such meat, as mange mainly infects the skin of an animal.
The ban will be in place until the office of the local veterinarian is satisfied that farmers have played their part in vaccinating their animals, and that the disease is under control.