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Nwoya Under Attack By The Foot And Mouth Disease

NWOYA -  Nwoya district is under quarantine to curtail the spread of foot and mouth disease that has reportedly infected hundreds of animals.

The disease has reportedly attacked livestock farms in the two sub-counties of Purongo and Anaka over the last three weeks as the district battles to control the outbreak.

Foot and mouth disease is one of the contagious livestock diseases which affects the cloven-hoofed animals that include cattle, buffalos, sheep, goats, pigs and camels among others.

The disease spreads in animals through breathe from infected animals, salvia, mucus, milk and feaces among others which presents in animals with fever, skin rash and sour mouth.

Although the World Organization of Animal Health reveals that many of the animals can recover, the report points out that the disease leaves animals mainly weak and debilitated with losses in production.

At least 323 cattle in Nwoya District have contracted the disease while 18 of the animals have so far died from the affected areas.

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The disease was first detected from Purongo and has so far killed 10 animals from the area with 78 others battling the disease while 8 more died from Anaka sub-county and 229 are infected, said Emmanuel Orach, the District Chairman for Nwoya.

Emmanuel further disclosed in a recent interview with theCooperator that this foot and mouth disease is suspected to have spread into the area from the wild animals at Murchison Falls Park.

Orach explained that a buffalo which presented signs and symptoms of the disease came in contact with many cattle before it died in the area barely three days before the outbreak.

The Nwoya District Veterinary Officer, Emmanuel Okwir, noted that the district is under quarantine which started three days ago to control infections from other sub-counties.

"We don't know when the measures will be relaxed but that will depend on the number of cases in the district and we expect the famers to abide by the regulations," Okwir added.

Hanji Bashir, the Communication Manager at the Uganda Wildlife Authority says they are yet to conduct an investigation into the park to ascertain the condition.

Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Animal Industry, Frank Tumwebaze has cautioned the district to observe measures in controlling the infections as they wait for vaccination of the animals.

He has also ordered for a total shutdown of movement of animals from the affected areas to the neighboring districts though he noted that the quarantine is not sustainable to the economy.

"We don't have enough vaccines as you may know that many parts of the country are equally affected by the same disease but the Ministry will ration drugs to support the district," Frank told theCooperator.

He urged the neighboring districts of Omoro, Oyam and Amuru to keep watch on their respective areas to avoid the mass infection into the region.

Michael Oketta, a livestock farmer from Latoro parish in Purongo sub-county says he is facing a challenge to graze his animals for fear of the infections from the neighboring villages.

"I have confined my animals in a very small piece of land but the challenge is that I am to watch over them and I can't go to work in my gardens," Oketta explained.

Alfred Opiyo, the Gulu District Veterinary Officer told theCooperator that the district has not registered  any case but noted that the district has informed the extension workers to monitor the farmers.

According to the veterinary reports, its treatment is very expensive which involves washing of the sores using antiseptic solution on a daily basis for at least seven days that most farmers cannot afford.

The farmers are also advised to apply wound spray which has antibiotics onto the animal except in the mouth so as to prevent secondary infections.

Nwoya County Member of Parliament Tony Awany told theCooperator that he will procure antibiotics in the next one week to support the farmers to contain the infections.

"Am using the Shs 200 million that parliament gave me to buy a car to procure some antibiotics for the farmers who are vulnerable to the infections," Awany explained in an interview.

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