The Veterinary Services Department has urged farmers to vaccinate their livestock against the Lumpy Skin Disease (L. S. D) to avoid losses related to the disease owing to the heavy rains in most parts of the country.
The development comes after farmers in Matabeleland province were worried after more than 20 cattle died in the past week due to the disease.
According to research, Lumpy skin disease is an infectious skin disease of cattle which is caused by a pox virus. The virus is transmitted from an infected animal to an uninfected one by blood sucking insects. It can also be spread from one animal to the other through direct contact with an affected animal. Calves can contract the disease through ingesting milk from an infected cow.
In Zimbabwe the virus has been known to take two distinct forms, that is the mild and the virulent forms. When lumpy disease strikes it can affect up to 50 percent of the herd and if the disease is not managed well up to 10 percent of the herd can succumb to lumpy skin disease.
In an interview with Bulawayo District Veterinary Officer Dr Ndabezinhle Mkhwananzi said the disease is prevalent during the wet season.
“This specified disease usually occurs mostly during rainy season. There are years when it suddenly breaks out after many years without the disease. This year we there are lots of rains. This disease is currently widespread countrywide. Farmers should be on the lookout and buy vaccine for their livestock, they should get the Penicillin injections to treat the livestock.
“Even the healthy ones should be vaccinated to avoid any losses brought by the disease . They are urged to vaccinate their cattle annually as a way of preventing this disease. Most smallholder farmers tend to wait until there is an outbreak before they consider vaccinating their animals,” he said.
He added: “When a disease outbreak is announced there is bound to be a surge in demand of the vaccine for that disease as many farmers make frantic efforts to procure the drugs and vaccinate their animals. This obviously pushes the price of the vaccine upwards. In most cases you will be left with no choice but to buy the vaccine at whatever price in a bid to save your herd. In some instances, one might discover that the vaccine is not readily available in the locality and such scenario exposes you to very costly options. So vaccinate on time to save both your cattle and money.”
The cheapest way to control lumpy skin disease and run away from its negative economic implications is to vaccinate. Vaccinations should be done annually before the onset of the rain season. This is so because lumpy skin disease tends to strike during the summer months when temperatures are high.
In Zimbabwe it is recommended that all stock aged 6 months and above be vaccinated against lumpy skin disease.
He advised farmers to be on the lookout for any cases of outbreaks and report to the nearest Veterinary service authorities and people should not consume meat from infected animals.
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