Vets struggle to diagnose disease killing chickens


Nuusita Ashipala

Ongwediva-The state veterinary office in Omusati Region is investigating the cause of death of a number of chickens in Oshikuku and Otamanzi constituencies, where chickens have been dying since August.

The state vet in Omusati Region Josephat Peter said it was initially suspected to be an outbreak of Newcastle disease – however the fowls tested negative for Newcastle as well as for Marek disease.

Although the situation is said to have improved in Otamanzi, chickens in Oshikuku continue to die, with many households now left without chickens.

The state vet said the matter is quite delicate because people whose chickens are dying do not leave contact details at the constituency offices to enable officials to visit their homes and make an informed diagnosis.
“We are keenly interested to know what is causing the death of the chickens and we are appealing to people to visit our offices in the constituencies,” said Peter.

He acknowledged that there is a need for further tests to determine the cause of death, but the challenge shall remain if the symptoms are communicated through a third person. He said that currently the deaths are more prevalent in young chickens.

Oshikuku Constituency Councillor and Chairperson of the Regional Council, Modestus Amutse, is appealing to the government to accelerate the process of diagnosing whatever is killing chickens in the region.
Amutse said determining the affliction would help the community to purchase the correct medication.

“People are now just buying whatever medication, but they do not have a proper diagnosis,” said Amutse. When the deaths were first reported in August the regional council was ready to fork out funds to buy medicine for the 38 villages in Otamanzi and 25 others in Oshikuku – however the process was halted after the chickens tested negative for Newcastle.

Petrina Shikomba from Oniingilamo village in Oshikuku said the situation is a big blow to farmers, adding that she only has six chickens left.

“At least I have six left, about seven [of my] neighbours have nothing left,” said Shikomba.
She said the chickens’ symptoms range from lack of appetite to having lice, amongst others.


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