The Department of Veterinary Services said it was targeting to vaccinate 87 000 cattle in Chipinge district this year, up from 14 000 last year. The massive exercise is in response to an outbreak of anthrax in Chibuwe, Dakate, Zamuchiya and Chisumbanje where at least 15 cattle reportedly died last week.
These communities are close to wildlife conservancies, considered a major source of livestock diseases. The outbreak also left two villagers hospitalised at St Peters Hospital after they consumed meat suspected to have been infected with anthrax. The acting director, Division of Veterinary Services, Dr Felistas Ndhlovu said the Government agency had embarked on a massive vaccination exercise in the areas.
“Chipinge district is a designated anthrax zone where movement of cattle is prohibited and receives annual vaccination for livestock to curb the spread of diseases,” she said.
“The current vaccination exercise, which was now due, is targeting 87 000 herd of cattle, up from 14 000 vaccinated last year in October to curb spread of anthrax to outlying areas,” she added.
Dr Ndhlovu said the department faced the challenge of farmers in the district failing to bring their cattle for vaccination for one reason or the other.
“These difficulties in failing to bring all local cattle mean that there are gaps in our annual vaccinations. We usually make quick responses after persons who consume contaminated meat develop symptoms of anthrax. Late reporting by locals is also a challenge,” she said.
Provincial Development Co-ordinator, Edgars Seenza said the Civil Protection Unit (CPU) was working closely with the local leadership and Department of Veterinary Services to identify hot spots.
“We have received those reports from our local structures and we have since responded as the Civil Protection Unit and dispatched a team which is now on the ground,” said Mr Seenza, who is also the head of CPU in Manicaland province.
“The situation is now under control. The two villagers who were hospitalised have since been discharged. We also rolled out an awareness programme to conscientise the locals about the dangers of consuming meat from an anthrax infected animal,” he said.
Anthrax is caused by a spore forming bacterium. It mainly affects animals. Humans can be infected through contact with an infected animal or inhaling spores. — New Ziana.