Cattle disease outbreak hits Zim, Butcheries selling infected meat

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Samson Muchirahondo

A yet to be identified disease outbreak killing most cattle has hit some parts of Mashonaland West province in Zimbabwe, with rogue elements said to be selling live beasts less than $100, with the meat being sneaked into butcheries, risking people’s lives.

The outbreak which started a few days back has been experienced in some parts of Mhondoro Mubaira and Mhondoro Ngezi Constituencies.

A source from veterinary department has confirmed the outbreak.

“There is an outbreak of a disease that is killing cattle in and around Mhondoro-Ngezi. However, its saddening that owners of these cattle are selling the ill live beasts at between $70-$100 claiming the disease is not fatal to human beings.

“Most of the meat is being sold in Kadoma, Chegutu, Chinhoyi and Zvinba butcheries,” said the source.

Sometime early this year, in the same area at least 2 000 cattle died of January disease, also known as Theileriosis — a tick-borne disease common between December and March.

The disease is spread through the bite of the brown ear tick.

Ministry of Lands, Agriculture and Rural Resettlement’s Department of Livestock and Veterinary Services director Dr Josphat Nyika was quoted in the state media saying the deaths were higher since most farmers were not dipping their cattle, further worsening the situation, saying farmers, especially in Domboshava, preferred spraying cattle on their own, but were not following the correct procedures.

Dr Nyika said 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.

He urged farmers to buy dipping chemicals from reputable retailers since 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. January disease is a notifiable disease in Zimbabwe and when suspected farmers are compelled by the law to report to the Division of Veterinary Services.

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