Thu. Sep 24th, 2020

Supporting Farmers

How to combat foot and mouth disease

6 min read

How farmers can combat foot and mouth disease

Cattle grazing at a farm in Gayaza. Photo by Rachel Mabala

In Summary

  • According to Dr Dhikusoka apparently Uganda is importing vaccines from Kenya Vaccine Production Industries Ltd which takes about six weeks to be delivered from date of giving an order.
  • The scientists are teaming up with a company of Indian origin namely Brilliant Farm and very soon farmers will get vaccines from within the country. The current outbreak has been alluded to delays in delivery of vaccines to farmers.
  • Farmers are expected to treat symptoms using antibiotics such as penicillin and disinfectants including JIK and Iodine solution at the entrance of every kraal. These solutions can also be applied to the wounds inflicted on animals, writes Lominda Afedraru.
Foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) is a highly infectious disease of cloven hoofed animals characterised by the formation of vesicles in and around the mouth and on the feet.
The disease is caused by infection with FMDV from genus Aphthovirus Picornaviridae family which exists in seven antigenically diverse serotypes O, A, C, Asia 1, SAT 1, SAT 2 and SAT 3
It is endemic in Uganda with outbreaks occurring frequently in cattle small ruminants.
Last week dairy farmers in cattle corridor regions confirmed yet another outbreak and lamenting they cannot access the required vaccines to help solve the problem.
Dr Moses Dhikusoka from Mbarara Zonal Agricultural Research and Development institute (MBAZARDI) who majors in issues concerning dairy health explains how FMD outbreaks usually occur and what measures farmers can adopt to help combat it.
Transmission
Dr Dhikusoka notes that the disease is highly contagious and it can spread through direct contact from an infected animal and herdsmen or people who have gotten in touch with infected animals.
It can also be transmitted by wind. Human beings are capable of transmitting through getting in contact with infected milk, beef and direct animal contact.
People who transport animals to abattoirs and auction animal markets are a source of transmission.
Symptoms
Dr Dhikusoka contends that out of the seven serotypes of FMD in Uganda SAT 1, SAT2, SAT3, A and O have so far been identified with Serotype O as being predominant.
The cerotype O and the SAT’s mainly affects cattle and sheep but the SAT’s also affect Buffalos although small ruminants like goats act as reservoirs.
In cattle numerous erosions, ulcers or vesicles in the oral cavity but in pigs, sheep and goats, these lesions are more common on the heel, coronary band and the feet.
In young animals, cardiac degeneration and necrosis can cause gray or yellow streaking in the muscular tissue of the heart.
This disease is so complex that the vaccine that protects against SAT 1 will not work in controlling SAT 2, SAT 3 and O.
Farmers are able to identify that their cattle is suffering from the disease they show signs of fever, blisters on the feet, in and around the mouth and on the mammary gland.
A suspected case of FMD present can be identified with one or more of the following associated signs namely severe depression, drastic decline in milk production, oral and foot laceration, excessive salivation and increased mortality rate and bulls will fail to mount cows which are on heat.
Cows will have udders containing blisters and milking becomes a challenge, this affects milk production
Exotic breeds and cross breed animals can be infected easily with FMD though the local breeds such as Ankole cattle and Zebus are tolerant to it.
But the calves will not escape death after two weeks infection unless medication is administered promptly.
Measures
The following steps can help farmers combat the disease;
• When there is an outbreak of FMD farmers are advised to report the incidence to the district veterinary officers who will in turn alert the commissioner livestock health and entomology at the Ministry of Agriculture for immediate action.
• Before advancing any treatment farmers are advised to get the right diagnostic from the district veterinary officer although there is a challenge of farmers fearing to report the incidence fearing government quarantine in infected regions which is dangerous.
• Farmers are expected to treat symptoms using antibiotics such as penicillin, use of disinfectants such as JIK and Iodine solution at the entrance of every kraal. These solutions can also be applied to the wounds inflicted on animals.
• Make sure people accessing the farm must disinfect before entry and feed the animals with pasture which is free from FMDV
• Usually ring vaccination of animals which are free from the infection is done once there is an outbreak in specific regions.
• Animals are vaccinated using FMD imported trivalent vaccines O, SAT 1, SAT 2 and SAT 3.
Efforts by scientists to combat the disease
Dr Dhikusoka says that since FMD is feared globally, it cannot be managed as an individual farmer meaning it has to be combated communally involving policy makers, farmers and scientists. Although mortality is generally low, this disease causes significant economic losses through reduction in milk production, loss of external livestock market.
Scientists in Uganda have formed a team and they are in advanced stages of developing a vaccine which will be provided to farmers in time.
According to Dr Dhikusoka apparently Uganda is importing vaccines from Kenya Vaccine Production Industries Ltd which takes about six weeks to be delivered from date of giving an order.
The scientists are teaming up with a company of Indian origin namely Brilliant Farm and very soon farmers will get vaccines from within the country. The current outbreak has been alluded to delays in delivery of vaccines to farmers.
Farmers have been complaining of failure to access vaccines in time coupled with uncounted price of 8,000 per doze which is being imposed by third parties yet the vaccine is supposed to be free of charge.

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