East Coast Fever is ravaging dairy herds around my farm. Help me with some functional information. Johnson Rutaaro (Nakasongola)
East coast fever is common among exotic breeds of cattle. This disease accounts for most of the deaths of the livestock.
It is very lethal to those farmers practicing zero grazing or smallscale farmers because it kills the animals within a month of attack.
Most dairy farmers are advised to report to vets when they spot the signs and symptoms in the first week.
The symptoms may include the swelling of the lymph nodes, loss of appetite, weakness in mobility and poor sight among others.
The first clinical sign of the fever in cattle appears seven to 15 days after attachment of infected ticks.
This is seen as a swelling of the parotid (salivary gland), for the ear is the preferred feeding site of the vector.
The primary vector for this dreadful disease is Rhipicephalus appendiculatus which infects the animal by patching itself on the body parts.
Controlling the disease
Regular dipping of cattle should be done. The cows can also be sprayed regularly with acaricides. This should be done on a weekly basis. But this rate has to be increased when tick infestation is high.
However, one should note that continued use of acaricides may lead to resistance of ticks and unacceptable residues in milk and meat. It is important to note that the use of acaricides is expensive and poses a threat to the environment.
Cattle immunisation: This offers life-long immunity to the animal. But it has not been adopted for widespread use because of logistical difficulties associated with production and distribution of a live vaccine and lack of commercial uptake.
Integrated control: This is a more effective approach, particularly for dairy farmers.
Answered by Prof Muleke the Dean of Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Egerton University.