GULU: The outbreak of Black Quarter disease has exacted a heavy toll on livestock in the Northern district of Gulu.
So far 50 cattle have died from the disease, which the district veterinary department is struggling to contain.
Black quarter is an acute animal disease, which presents emphysematous swelling in the heavy muscles of the animals.
Sick animals show symptoms of sudden high fever, swelling in the loin and buttocks.
The disease afflicts the shoulders of animals, chest and neck. Animals die within 24 to 48 hours of presenting the symptoms.
Interviewed for a comment on April 22, Gloria Aloyo, the Gulu District Information Officer, said the disease has killed 50 cattle from Awach and Paicho Sub Counties in just two weeks.
Aloyo said the disease was first reported in Arut central village in Paicho Sub County after a cow died suddenly.
“We took the samples to the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Industry for a test and results confirmed that those animals are dying from Black Quarter disease,” Aloyo said.
The district does not have drugs to vaccinate the animals. Aloyo advised farmers to take their animals for vaccination to private animal clinics.
Margaret Lapaka, an affected farmer in Paicho Sub County, said farmers are struggling to find and pay Shs 5,000 to district extension workers to vaccinate each animal.
Lapaka said she lost her only cow because she could not afford to vaccinate it. She said five cattle have died in her area.
“We would find cattle dead and we thought they were poisoned because even the meat is black until we were told it is an outbreak of a disease” Lapaka added.
She said however, that the disease outbreak has generally battered the price of meat because most farmers are slaughtering their animals and selling the meat cheaply.
According to her, meat from dead animals is sold at Shs 5,000 per kilogram. Other farmers are slaughtering their cattle to avoid infection and sell the meat at Shs 8,000.
Simon Otema, the extension worker in charge of Awach and Paicho Sub County, revealed that 339 cattle in the affected areas have been vaccinated.
He said dead animals should be buried. He warned locals against eating meat of the dead animals.
Alfred Opiyo, the Gulu District veterinary officers, said the disease can be managed if animals are restricted from getting into contact with others from the affected areas.
Dr. Tony Aliro, a lecturer at Gulu University in the Faculty of Agriculture, said much as the disease is bacterial and cannot spread from animals to humans, eating such meat is unhealthy.
“We don’t recommend people to eat meat of the animals which have died of any disease,” Dr. Aliro warned.
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