Govt declares war against January disease

The Veterinary Services Department has declared war against the January disease which has claimed thousands of cattle since the beginning of the year.

January disease, also known as Theileriosis is a tick-borne disease common between December and March.

The disease is spread through the bite of the brown ear tick.

In a memorandum to all Provincial Veterinary Directors (PVDs) on January 24, 2023, the Chief Director in the Department of Veterinary Services under the Ministry of Lands, Agriculture, Fisheries, Water and Rural Development, Dr Josphat Nyika said there was an upsurge of the disease.  

“With the huge support from the Treasury, we have been able to bring down JD cases and deaths, year on year by 47 percent and 31 percent in 2021 and 2022 respectively. However we have seen an upsurge in JD cases and deaths from the beginning of 2023,” he said, noting it was against this background that the agriculture ministry was declaring a national war against the disease this year.

Dr Nyika indicated they will launch a month-long programme against the disease.  

“Each Veterinary Extension Officer (VEO) shall hold a JD awareness meeting at each dip tank under their inspectorate in the next two weeks. At the JD meetings, all farmers will be engaged  for a minimum of one hour discussing JD,” said the veterinarian expert.

“In particular, farmers will receive information on the following subjects: JD and its epidemiology, the Importance of intensive dipping, the Importance of constructing dipping infrastructure, equipment and handling facilities, plunge dips, spray races and knapsacks sprayers, Correct post application of tick grease and Correct use of pour on dip chemicals.”

Other subjects will include Animal movement controls and quarantines and Prosecution for failure to dip cattle or keeping them tick-free.

Dr Nyika stated that a record of all farmers who obtained JD awareness as part of the battle against JD campaign must be reported weekly and without fail to the Head Office via the normal processes.

“All PVDs shall make sure that they have correct mapping of JD hot spots including a correct cattle census of the affected dip tanks. All affected JD hot spots shall be receiving pour on dips between January and end of May. All JD hotspots shall receive two to four kilogrammes of tick grease per household over the same period,” he said.

All PVDs must map out dip tanks in JD hotspots that require dip tank rehabilitation and ensure that they are all operational immediately, while VEOs must visit all A1 and A2 farms to impress and report on the campaign.

The VEOs will be required to report on tick infestation on cattle, cattle handling facilities on the farm, dipping procedures in use, and related facilities, including the availability and types of dipping chemicals on the farm.

They must also educate on suitability of dipping methods in relation to cattle census facilities and labour, dip tank calibration, dip tank desilting, water replenishment and recharging, encourage A2 farmers to dip their cattle at the nearest communal dip tanks and instruct A2 farmers to construct cattle handling facilities for effective dipping.

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