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Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak: Mbarara City leaders ask govt for vaccines

MBARARA, January 31, 2024 – Leaders in Mbarara City have appealed to government to urgently provide vaccines following a ban on the sale of livestock and related products over the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease [FMD] in some districts of Ankole Sub-region.

Cases of FMD have been reported in the cattle corridor districts of Lyantonde, Kiruhura, Mbarara, Sheema, Kazo, Isingiro, Ibanda, and Bushenyi among others.

The ban on the sale and slaughter of animals follows the Commissioner Animal Health, Dr Anna Rose Ademun’s letter dated January 25, 2024, declaring the outbreak of FMD in Mbarara City and Mbarara district.

In a presser held at Mbarara City Council headquarters on Tuesday, Dr Moses Amanyire, the City Veterinary Officer [CVO] confirmed that a quarantine has been imposed on the sale of livestock and meat in the city.

"We got a communication from the Ministry [Ministry of Agriculture] in regard to FMD.  We have registered 20 active cases across the city,” he said.

According to Amanyire, the FMD cases were identified in Bununsya ward [3 farms], Rwemigina ward [4 farms], Rwenjeru [3 farms], Nyarubanga [7 farms], Ruti ward [3 farms] and Rwakishakizi [3 farms] affected.

"In all these cases highlighted there is no death, all the animals are being managed and we have so far not received any new cases,” he said.

Amanyire stated that among strategies put across to manage the FMD outbreak in the city, a taskforce has been established to carry out the surveillance until the situation is restored to normal.

“We have closed all the abattoirs and the butchers; we have also stopped the movement of cattle, goats, sheep and pigs because all these animals can get infected by FMD,” he said, adding that anyone found smuggling animal products in or out of the city is liable for prosecution under the Animal Disease Act, Cap 38.

Robert Mugabe Kakyebezi, Mayor Mbarara City said the FMD quarantine will affect people’s businesses and the local revenue collection, and has appealed to the government through the Ministry of Agriculture to provide vaccines to treat the animals in the cattle corridor.

“I want to ask government that since the restriction is in place, then it should provide us with the vaccines. Parents are stuck, with the ongoing ban, parents are stuck, they cannot  sell animals and products to get money to buy vaccines or take their children to school,” Kakyebezi said.

He also called upon the government to convene a regional meeting to harmonise measures necessary for the prevention of livestock diseases in the cattle corridor.

“I also request the ministry to convene a regional meeting on the prevention of animal diseases such that we can move in the same direction. You find what we are doing here [Mbarara City] is not being enforced in the neighbouring districts, which makes the disease to persist in the region,” Kakyebezi noted.

Meanwhile, Dr. Robinson Nabaasa, Senior Veterinary Officer conquered with the mayor Kakyebezi that the Ministry of Agriculture should treat the outbreak of  FMD in the western cattle corridor as an emergency and send vaccines.

“It is still a challenge that we actually get vaccines after getting disease outbreak, and yet we should be getting the vaccines before an outbreak. Like the mayor has said, we need to have these vaccines early enough so that we can always protect our animals from diseases,” he said.

Nabaasa urged the farmers to report any animal disease before causing more harm on the animal farms. “I call upon farmers to declare that their animals are sick so that we quickly treat them,” said Nabaasa.

He urged the farmers and other stakeholders in the cattle corridor to comply with the restrictions. “Let us be vigilant to use the restriction to control the disease [FMD]. Let us be vigilant to use the footbath to disinfect and the faster we comply, the faster we get out of this quarantine,” he said.

Currently, Mbarara City has a total of about 14,000 heads of cattle, 11,500 goats and sheep, and around 20,000 pigs.

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