By Robert Adiga
There is panic among goat farmers in Madi-Okollo after losing a number of goats to suspected Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR) disease.
So far, 45 male Boer goats and 12 female local goats supplied by the State House under its poverty eradication programme between December 15 and 16, have died.
Thirteen goats owned by locals have also died of the suspected PPR disease.
The goat farming project was championed by the Woman MP for Madi-Okollo, Joan Okia Aniku and her mother, Rebecca Aniku.
Dr Charles Onzima, the district veterinary officer, said the suspected viral disease, which is related to rinderpest in sheep, as well as goats, has killed goats in seven villages of Olali Parish in Ogoko sub-county.
He said the disease was confirmed in Madi-Okollo after 500 local and 94 Boer goats were supplied to families in Degea, Olali, Payawa, East Jawura, West Jawura, Alivu and Pamvara villages.
Thirty-five beneficiaries were picked from each village. Each of the villages received two local breed female goats and 13 male Boer goats to be shared among beneficiaries.
The PPR disease is believed to be imported by male Boer goats that were procured from Buvuma.
What goat farmers say
Ahmed Asiku, 25, from Degea village in Ogogo sub-county, who received one female goat under the programme, said he is devastated after the death of his animal two weeks after he received it.
“I also had two other goats that were infected, but after being vaccinated three times, they are recovering and, hopefully, they will survive,” Asiku said.
As a preventive measure, Asiku said he has isolated other animals from the ones showing signs of sickness to prevent the disease from spreading.
Oscar Ayub Azamuke, a youth leader from Degea village, said he was given two female goats and one Boer, but it died a week after he received it, after showing fever-like symptoms.
“The district veterinary officer intervened and vaccinated the other goats, including those I had before and these have recovered. I now isolate my goats from the rest of the community,” Azamuke said.
He said authorities should replace the dead goats since the aim was to improve the breeds of local goats.
For Harriet Wikoru, 46, a mother of eight from Degea village, although she has not lost any of her three goats, one has fever and sores on the mouth.
“I am still hopeful that since the goats have been vaccinated twice, they might survive. I now ensure sure that I do not infected goats with the others,” Wikoru said.
What local leaders are doing
Rashel Adroko, the field co-ordinator for the Poverty Alleviation Project in the parish, said there are 245 beneficiaries for the goat rearing project from seven villages.
She blamed the death of the goats on the Boar goats that were distributed to the community members without being vaccinated.
Though not a beneficiary, Adroko said she also lost three of her local goats to the suspected disease as one of her family members was a beneficiary of the project.
“Farmers are reporting cases of goats dying and we carried out the first vaccination on December 20 and 29 last year. The third round was carried out this month. We are working out a way to having these goats replaced,” Adroko added.
She said they have advised farmers not to mix the distributed goats with those they had previously.
“We are now hiring ex-veterinary officers to help vaccinate the goats and we are sure the situation will improve soon,” Adroko added.
Alex Arudraku, the LC1 chairperson of Degea village, whose family lost two goats to the suspected disease, said they have intensified community sensitisation in the affected villages, and that the beneficiaries have been advised to isolate the newly distributed goats.
Arudraku called on the district production department and the veterinary officer to expedite the vaccination exercise in the district before the disease spreads to other parishes.
He, however, decried the laxity by some farmers, who defy the directive to take their goats for vaccination.
What has been done?
Dr Onzima said immediately after receiving information about the suspected PPR disease, the veterinary officers got the goats manifesting the signs, which include sudden onset of depression, fever, discharge from the eyes and nose, sores in the mouth, difficulty in breathing and eventually death, among others, vaccinated.
He said they have already had three rounds of vaccination in the affected areas, including for goats previously owned by the locala, adding that the fourth round is expected soon.
According to Onzima, they are still waiting for confirmation of the disease from the agriculture ministry as samples from the dead animals have been taken for examination.
He said he suspects that the disease could be spreading from the male Boar goats that were brought from Buvuma and taken straight to the beneficiaries before being monitored and vaccinated, unlike the local breeds that were kept in a designated place for days and vaccinated before being taken to the community.
“We are doing everything possible to ensure that if this is a disease outbreak, it should not spread to the neighbouring areas. That is the reason why we have strengthened efforts to have the rest of the goats vaccinated within the shortest time possible,” Dr Onzima said.
Efforts to get a comment from the project lobbyist, MP Aniku, on the way forward, proved futile as repeated calls went unanswered and messages were not replied.
Peste des petits ruminants (PPR) is a viral disease caused by a morbillivirus closely related to the rinderpest virus, which affects goats, sheep and some wild relatives of domesticated small ruminants, as well as camels.
It was first reported in Ivory Coast in 1942. PPR is a severe, fast-spreading disease of mainly domestic small ruminants.
It is characterised by sudden onset of depression, fever, discharges from the eyes and nose, sores in the mouth, disturbed breathing and cough, foul-smelling diarrhoea and death.
The main route of infection is respiratory, and PPR is spread by airborne droplets. All secretions and excretions of infected animals are contagious throughout the course of the disease, but no carrier state exists. The virus targets lymphoid tissue.