Elita Chikwati Agriculture Reporter
Government has provided $30 000 for the vaccination of livestock against anthrax in Filabusi, Matabeleland. The money was used to buy 150 000 doses, which are being used to vaccinate cattle, sheep and goats in the area.
Department of Veterinary Services director, Dr Josphat Nyika, on Wednesday said the fund would go a long way in ensuring vaccination of the livestock.
“About 10 000 vaccine shave have already been deployed and vaccination is underway in Filabusi. Farmers are co-operating very well.
“We are still mounting roadblocks and veterinary checks to prevent the movement of livestock into and from the affected areas,” he said.
Dr Nyika said farmers in the area have been urged to destock as a drought measure and the DVS is monitoring all abattoirs in the area with assistance from the Ministry of Health and Child Care to ensure vaccinated animals are not slaughtered.
He said vaccinated livestock should not be slaughtered within two weeks.
“We urge farmers to avoid opening carcasses of cattle that die of natural causes to reduce the contamination of pastures with anthrax,” he said.
He said anthrax was prevalent during the rainy season as top soils are washed away by running water.
“This exposes anthrax spores to livestock when animals graze close to the ground. Anthrax spores can survive in the soil for more than 40 years,” he said.
Dr Nyika said anthrax affected all warm blooded animals including human beings.
He urged farmers to dispose of carcasses that would have died of anthrax carefully by burning or burying the carcass on site.
Dr Nyika advised farmers to notify veterinary officers in their area for proper disposal of carcasses.
“Symptoms of anthrax include sudden deaths of animals, carcasses are bloated with legs in the air and blood oozing from all natural openings such as mouth, nose, rectum among others,” he said.
The blood of the carcass is brownish and does not clot.
Natural anthrax is prevalent in Zimbabwe where its spores can live for decades in dry soil and are ingested by animals during grazing close to the ground.