January Disease Kills 2 000 Cattle
Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement’s Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services director Josphat Nyika yesterday confirmed that at least 2 000 cattle have died of January disease, also known as Theileriosis which is a tick-borne disease common between December and March. Government has also intensified awareness campaigns in affected areas that include Goromonzi, Bindura, Chegutu and Chivhu.
The disease is spread through the bite of the brown ear tick. Nyika said the number deaths could be higher as some cases were not reported. He said most farmers were not dipping their cattle and that some prefer spraying their cattle on their own. Said Nyika:
The major challenges are irregular dipping. Most dip tanks are not on the recommended weekly dipping due to lack of dipping chemicals. There is also low turnout at dip tanks. Most farmers are not willing to take their cattle for dipping at the communal dip tanks. Some prefer conducting the operation themselves, but may do it in the wrong way and this is not effective in controlling ticks. The other challenge is that there are fake chemicals on the market and some farmers can not tell the difference as the packaging and labelling is the same. Some unscrupulous dealers are packaging tea and selling it as dip. Farmers should buy dipping chemicals from reputable retailers. There is also shortage of the drugs to treat the disease especially Burparvaquione.
Signs of an animal affected by January disease include swelling of the lymph nodes under the ears and on the shoulder, cloudiness of the eyes, difficulty in breathing with froth from the nose and mouth. The affected animal collapses and dies within few days.