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Livestock Diseases To Look Out For In The Rainy Season

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According to Sam Oketch, former chairman of Uganda Veterinarians Association, lumpy disease is a viral infection of cattle, typically characterised by nodules or lumps on the skin.

It usually occurs during the rainy seasons when flies are in abundance, though the disease can also occur throughout the year. It presents with skin nodules or ulcers on the skin of the animal. Up to 45% of your herd can get infected and the mortality (death) rate may reach 10%.

The disease, causes loss of body weight because of loss of appetite on the infected animals, loss of milk production, lowered or complete loss of fertility in bulls and cows, abortion, as well as permanent damage to skin. How it is spread Lumpy skin disease is spread by flies.

Calves can get the disease through suckling milk from infected cows. The disease may also be spread through saliva from infected animals drinking from the same watering points.

Symptoms

Nodules on the infected animals can vary from a few, to hundreds on the skin. The size of the nodules ranges from 0.5 to 5cm and occur anywhere on the skin.

The legs become swollen and develop sores pneumonia/ coughing resulting from infection of the respiratory tract (the windpipe) and lungs. There is thick, watery to pus fluid discharge from the nose and eyes of the infected animals.

Diagnosis can be made by the presence of the typical lesions on the skin and in the mouth. This can be confirmed by a veterinarian taking samples of the skin to a laboratory to identify the virus. One should feel for the nodules on the skin, or one can wet the hair in order to see the nodules more easily.

Treatment

Sick animals may be removed from the herd and given supportive treatment consisting of local wound dressing to discourage secondary infections.

Antibiotics may be given for skin infections, where local applications of insecticides to infected cattle have been made in an attempt to reduce further transmission, but to no apparent benefit.

Vaccination will greatly reduce the morbidity and economic effects of the disease, but may not completely limit the extension of-Lumpy Skin Disease. Follow-up vaccination of calves and revaccination programmes over a period of two to three years will greatly reduce the incidence of the disease.

Anthrax

There has been an outbreak of the deadly anthrax disease in parts of western Uganda, in the recent years. The disease outbreak was first reported in November 2011, but incidences have continued to occur.

Whenever there is an outbreak, the movement and sale of animals and their products, such as meat, hides and skin, milk and ghee should be restricted. Whenever there is a sudden death of an animal in a community, people should be careful not to eat the carcass.

Causes

Anthrax is caused by a bacterium called bacillus anthracis that is carried through anthrax organisms that live in the soil for a long time.

In the soil where they live, anthrax organisms exist in a dormant form called spores. These spores are hard and difficult to destroy. n Most of the spores come after serious weather changes, for example, where there is drought and the ground is almost bare. As the animals comb the area in search for minerals from the soil, they are exposed to the spores and then anthrax is born.

Also, due to excessive rains, landslides occur. When they occur, the soils open up and the spores come out of the soil and remain on the surface, making it easy for animals to pick them up as they graze.

How anthrax is spread

Most outbreaks occur in areas where animals have previously died of anthrax, as the spores remain alive for decades. For instance, there was an outbreak of anthrax recently around Queen Elizabeth National Park, which killed some hippos.

Anthrax can be spread by vultures, hyenas, dogs, scavengers, farm tools and people who come into contact with the sick animal.

Adverse weather conditions, such as floods, which wash the spores from high to low lands and drought, which leaves the ground bear, enables the spores to come up.

Anthrax can be transmitted to people through contact with infected animals or their products.

Animals stop eating.

There is quick progression from normal health condition to death in a matter of hours. n Sudden deaths in animals.

Animals become weak, they develop fever and there is first excitement, followed by depression, difficulty in breathing, unco-ordinated movements and convulsions.

There is bloody discharges from the natural body openings. Edema is present in different parts of the body.

After death, the animal’s body rapidly decomposes. Signs of Anthrax in humans.

Development of dark coloured, painless sores within three to 10 days after exposure.

Abdominal pain, severe breathing difficulties, shock, fever and flu. Prevention.

Farmers should vaccinate their animals whenever there is an outbreak, especially people whose farms border wildlife conservation areas. n When there is an outbreak, movement and sale of animal products, such as meat, milk, hides and skin and ghee should be stopped.

Educate the communities to report any sudden death of animals to the veterinary doctor for advice and to establish the cause of the death.

An animal suspected to have died of anthrax should not be slaughtered until a veterinary doctor has checked and established the cause of death.

Once confirmed, dead animals should be buried six feet deep and the burial place disinfected using lime, which kills the maggots that could easily carry the bacteria that cause anthrax.

This also prevents scavengers, hyenas and dogs from spreading the diseases through parts of the animal they carry from the dead animal. n A vet should be called in case of sudden death of an animal to establish the cause of death before coming into contact with an animal.

Persons working on the farm should observe hygiene. Wash all tools and clothes that came into contact with the dead animal with disinfectants.

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