Farmers cry out for vaccines as anthrax ravages districts

A veterinary doctor examines cattle. Cattle dealers in Kapchorwa District have defied a directive from authorities imposing quarantine on the movement of the animals, slaughter of meat and sale following the outbreak of anthrax in the area. FILE PHOTO

What you need to know:

  • The Bududa health officer, Dr Imelda Tumuhaire, last week said the disease has so far killed one person, infected 13, and killed 18 animals in the district.

Cases of anthrax in Bududa and Manafwa districts are on the rise due to lack of drugs to vaccinate animals, authorities have said

The Bududa health officer, Dr Imelda Tumuhaire, last week said the disease has so far killed one person, infected 13, and killed 18 animals in the district.

The most affected villages are Bumalakala, Bunalakala, Muririnyi and Bumabala Upper in Bunatsami Sub-County.

Anthrax is caused by bacteria (bacillus anthracis) in the atmosphere and the animals, mainly herbivores, get it through contaminated grass, soil and water. Humans can acquire it through eating contaminated meat and animal products.

The Bududa chairperson, Mr Milton Kamoti Wasunguyi, said the government seems reluctant to vaccines.

“We appeal to the government to send vaccines to make sure all the animals are vaccinated. Farmers don’t have money to buy vaccines,” Mr Kamoti said.

However, the district production officer, Mr Felix Odongo, said anthrax is not on the list of the diseases which the government procures drugs for.

“We are trying to mobilise the farmers to buy drugs for themselves but most of them claim they don’t have money so they are waiting upon the government,” Mr Odongo said.

Mr Emmy Mitala, the Resident District Commissioner, said they have instituted a temporary quarantine to control the spread of the disease.

“We have engaged our neighbours of Manafwa and Namisindwa to enforce the quarantine so that disease is contained,”Mr Mitala said.

He added that they have got intelligence that some people are smuggling meat and milk to Mbale City despite the ban.

“Some people are using shortcuts to smuggle the meat to Mbale City but we are going to arrest them,” he said.

Mr Mitala, who also heads the district security committee, however, said they do not have enough manpower to manage the roadblocks.

The district police commander, Mr Hilary Nuwahereza, said they have changed the model of operations to arrest smugglers.

“We carried out an operation in Bushika market and impounded two cows and a pig. We have also recovered four jerricans of milk going to Mbale,” Mr Nuwahereza said.

Ms Irene Namono, a farmer in Bududa Town Council, called for strengthening of the surveillance system for early detection and response to disease outbreaks.

“We need community sensitisation on the dangers of eating dairy products of sick animals,” Ms Namono said.


Manafwa livestock markets closed

According to a May 20 letter signed by the Manafwa chief administrative officer, Mr Peter Henry Wotunya, districts have also closed livestock markets to fight anthrax. They banned the movement of animals or animal products into or out of the districts and also the slaughtering of cattle, goats, sheep, and pigs.

“Failure to adhere to quarantine restrictions will lead to prosecution in accordance with the Animal Disease Act, cap 2018,” the letter reads in part.

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