Slaughter houses closed in Busia to control disease outbreak

Vet Officer William Okumu (wearing a hat) injects an animal at  Kemodo Market in Teso South .Some of the animals have been infected by foot and mouth disease.Picture:Omtatah N. Kevine
Vet Officer William Okumu (wearing a hat) injects an animal at Kemodo Market in Teso South .Some of the animals have been infected by foot and mouth disease.Picture:Omtatah N. Kevine

Busia County government has embarked on a major vaccination exercise to save over 400,000 herds of livestock, in a move aimed at containing the outbreak of foot and mouth and lumpy skin diseases across the county.

Working in conjunction with Coopers Kenya and the International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) who came in to revamp the livestock industry in the county, the authorities are rushing to stop the spread of the diseases which have been reported in various sub-counties.

The quarantine of livestock in the county is occasioned by the fact that samples collected and sent to the national laboratories in Kabete last year, tested positive of foot and mouth diseases.

Governor Sospeter Ojaamong launched a countywide exercise to ensure all animals get vaccinated. The county had last reported the outbreak of the disease in July 2015.

The county government through its Department of Veterinary Services has restricted the movement of livestock in its seven sub-counties with foot and mouth diseases vaccination carried out in Teso South and North as well as Nambale and Matayos. Lumpy skin disease vaccination has been undertaken in Butula, Samia and Budalangi even though the diseases have been reported in all the seven sub-counties.

Busia Deputy Governor Moses Mulomi says the county government has disbursed KSh3 million towards the exercise, with a further KSh15 million expected to vaccinate all the 400,000 herds of livestock as a preventive measure.

County Director of Veterinary Services Dr Allan Ogendo says animals which have already been infected by the lumpy skin diseases will not be vaccinated, as they are already stressed. However, he said, they will be administered with anti-biotic medication until they recover and only then can they be vaccinated.

County CEC for Health Dr Maurice Simiyu appeals to farmers to take livestock farming seriously by addressing the looming catastrophe on time. He stressed that farming is an exercise that can fight poverty on a long-term basis.

“The milk and meat from our livestock can enrich us within no time and if we do not get our livestock vaccinated on time, we might remain in poverty forever,” says Simiyu.

County Executive Committee member for Agriculture Dr Moses Osia says over 1,200 cases of foot and mouth disease have been reported in four sub-counties and continues to spread widely.

“Foot and mouth disease is an infectious and often fatal disease that affects hoofed animals both domestic and wild,” says Osia. He explains: “The virus causes high fever for two or three days followed by blisters inside the mouth and on the feet. I urge farmers to report any strange symptoms in their animals and liaise with local veterinary officers and also take their animals for vaccination.”

Osia says areas in Teso North where foot and mouth disease have been reported includes Kiriko, Awaat and Ikapolo. In Teso South the affected areas include Kotur, Kwang’amor and Ngelechom. In Nambale the affected areas are Lupida, Segero and Sikinga. In Matayos, the disease is prevalent in Mujuru, Mundika and Sirishia.

Veterinary officer, Dr John Ohato says compared to the conventional vaccine that was previously used twice a year, the County has administered the new oil-based Foot and Mouth Disease vaccine which is being used for the first time and is cost effective.

Coopers Kenya has donated 7,500 doses for treating anthrax, the most contagious and fatal livestock disease to the county government.

Ogendo warns that lumpy skin disease is spread by house flies and during heavy rains. He says the quarantine which was imposed that saw markets and slaughter houses closed will only be lifted if there will be no new infections reported in any part of the county.

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