Ankole on high alert over anthrax ahead of Christmas

A butcher sells meat in Mbarara City on Wednesday.  PHOTO | JULIUS BYAMUKAMA

What you need to know:

  • Authorities fear the disease could spread beyond Lyantonde and Kyotera districts that have reported cases.

Authorities in the cattle-rearing districts in Ankole Sub-region are on high alert over livestock disease outbreaks ahead of the festive season.

The alert comes on the heels of an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) and anthrax in neighbouring districts since more animals are slaughtered during the Christmas holiday celebrations.

Dr Hillary Arinaitwe, the district veterinary officer of Ibanda, told the Monitor that they have come up with strict animal movement restrictions, especially those coming from other districts.

“Our technical teams, security and local leaders have been put on high alert to bar any animals from crossing into our district…We don’t want to take chances because it’s a festive season,” Dr Arinaitwe said.

He added that local leaders, veterinary officers and police have to also certify movement of animals within the district.

Mr Herbert Mayanja, the chairperson of Ibanda, said there is no livestock disease threat in the district as of now but locals must be cautious during the festive season.

“In October, we got a case of anthrax disease carelessly; a cow was transported from a neighbouring district, slaughtered and shared and those who ate it got strange symptoms but our teams were alert and the situation was handled professionally and the disease contained. So we can’t take any chances,” he said.

The Chairperson of Kazo District, Rev Sam Katugunda, said: “We have put all stakeholders on alert, the district security and our technical teams are on alert. We are not allowing any livestock to cross into our district this festive season.”

“We are telling our people to be careful, be vigilant, and report to authorities in case they see herdsmen moving with animals around their area but also not to eat meat from dead animals. Our extension workers and leaders are also on high alert  to ensure restrictions against animal movements in our district are adhered to,” he added.

The Isingiro District Veterinary Officer, Dr Burhan Kasozi, said they have suspended livestock markets in the district.

“We have suspended livestock markets because along the way and in these markets livestock mingle with each other and in case some are not sold they return to farms and can easily transmit these diseases. So if one is to sell his or her animal, it has to be on a farm,” Dr Kasozi said.

Dr Andrew Bakashaba, the district veterinary officer of Mbarara, said besides sensitising farmers, they have stocked enough vaccines to treat animals in case of an outbreak.

“We don’t want to take chances. As we go to the festive season, our teams are on the ground doing surveillance,” Dr Bakashaba said.

Mr Emmy Kateera, the resident district commissioner of Mbarara, said security is on high alert to monitor the movement of animals during the festive season.

“”Yes it’s a festive season but our people and sources of livelihood have to be secure, we don’t want to come out of the festive season when people are sick and animals dying,” he said.

anthrax and fmd

Anthrax has so far claimed 18 lives and a total of 28 people are currently bedridden in several villages of Kabira Sub-county in Kyotera District.

 Lyantonde District has also been affected by the disease.

Anthrax is caused by a bacteria.     

   Humans generally acquire the disease directly or indirectly from infected animals or occupational exposure to affected or contaminated animal products.

    On the other hand, Foot and Mouth Disease is an infectious and sometimes fatal viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed or divided hooved animals.